Friday, May 5, 2017

We Need Secrets

I read the following a few weeks ago and it has stuck with me ever since.

"I’ve written in other venues about the “thrill of the hunt.” And by that, I mean the hunt for that one back issue of a comic series you loved, that old album by the band you loved, or that out of print book by that author you loved. These “hunts” were a big part of my youth, and the very concept is gone now. Everything is easily found on the Internet with a few keystrokes.

But there’s more to the phenomenon than just the hunt for material goods. Just a few decades ago, it was hard to be an expert on something—even something frivolous. If you wanted to deep dive into something, it took time, determination, and sometimes a bit of creativity. When my friends and I could quote Ghostbusters verbatim back in the day, it was because we went to see the movie over and over again in the theater. If someone knew about a rare, alternate track by Elvis Costello, it was because they immersed themselves in Elvis Costello fandom over the course of years. When my friend could recite the names of all the First Age elves mentioned in The Silmarillion, it was because he pored over the book and made the list himself. 

Now, all of those things could be accomplished with a quick Internet search.

This isn’t “back in my day” complaining. I love the fact that all this information is readily available at our fingertips. We’re better off now, despite the loss of what I’m talking about. But I think there’s still something in human nature that wants to discover. To hunt. To learn some secret not easily found—or, perhaps more importantly—not found by someone else. For some of us, we don’t want to read about someone else’s discoveries; we want to make them on our own.”

- Monte Cook - MCG game design blog


I could not agree more with Mr. Cook and what I also identify with in those thoughts above is the core of what makes creativity such a compelling pursuit for me. Everything I do, I realize, is about the slow discovery. The unfolding of time, abilities and the way we grow incrementally closer to what we create the more we put ourselves into it.  The secrets within.

For me, hand crafting in the internet age is an absolute salvation. I have been blessed by a lot of wonderful twists and turns along this road to making a creative life and the internet and technology are crucial in the avenue of selling, marketing, even offering inspiration. Yet one of the most refreshing discoveries was that folks, for the most part, still love a handmade item over something easily reproduced. 

I am befuddled by the number of people who set out to try something, creative or otherwise and, if it is not an instant success or at the very least, if it does not quickly show signs of being so, they move on. Now, I've done my share of "moving on" in my own life but we are talking about moving on after investing years in something before making that ultimate decision. Really taking them as far as I thought I could go, sometimes further. And all those things I left behind still play a role in my new discoveries at times today. The same way that a 16th century map informed the 17th century cartographer and on down the line. 

When I look at the sculpting and making-of-things that I have invested myself in over the last 8 years now, and I see those first pieces that sold, that people actually gave me money for, I am truly amazed.

I never questioned if I would get "here" one day. I knew that from experience and from the fact I grew up in an era when you HAD to put the time in. For anything. Nothing was available with such immediacy. And for that I am extremely grateful. 

It just takes time.

When I sit down each morning to work on my book, I know very well how far I still have to go. I'm new to that creative form of expression and I have to learn things on the fly, stop often to seek out a reference or sidestep the story to explore a character, setting, idea, grammar usage or ancient myth. It takes time, yes, but it has to be done.

In a day when folks are abandoning the well written blog left and right, the hard form of writing, for the ease of instant I-phone photo glam, for the lifestyle account and the Instagram fix, I feel grateful to have been brought up in another time. At the very least, one that bridges both worlds.  

I am so grateful for the fact that the one thing the internet will never change is that, to be good at something physical, something creative, be it sculpting, writing, RPG game design, painting, illustration, dance, cosplay, architecture, acting, landscape design, and on and on, you are going to have to be willing to sit down and put in the time. All the instruction, how-to tutorials and step by step instructions won't give you the skill without the hours of application. And they won't give you an original voice/style/expression either.

In the work of almost all of my blog friends here I have been given the gift of seeing YOU uncover those secrets in your own work over years. I've watched them grow and reveal themselves in time. There is so much beauty in that and it sustains me and inspires me as well. 

Those who are just starting or still dreaming of a creative life.  .  . you are going to have to take that deep dive, start at square one and do the work, try to refine that technique or reinvent it until you think you can't possibly do it again, then go ahead and do it again anyway. 

You'll pore over the hints, tips, instructions whether they came from a 100 yr old book or from a website. But trust me, it WILL be worth every moment you put in down the road.  By all means, embrace technology as a tool, just not as the means to the end. It will never be creative in and of itself. People made it so. People opened that door and refined it for you too. Now go further.

And if you, like me, want secretes to be revealed? 
Stick with the art. 
Stick with the practice.
It will make you so glad that you did one day.
I promise you.

And along the way
You will make those important discoveries
You will improve and know yourself better
And you're going to learn those secrets.
The most important of which will be the ones locked within yourself. 
The ones that nobody else can access for you. 

And those, no matter what the internet and our digital age provides for you as far as information at your fingertips, THOSE secrets will be the ones you will cherish the most.


New mini woodland Muridae Market mouse. Chettes is the first but more to come soon!

One continuos build/sculpt, layering colored clay, onyx eyes, a culmination of 8 yrs of secrets revealed and discovered.
Worth every moment spent. :)


  1. I absolutely loved this and enjoyed reading every minute of this post, so beautifully expressed and written, I experienced life the same way.
    And I also deeply connect with and understand where you come from as an artistic soul, that spark of connecting inward and exploring/discovering/learning /cultivating and weaving intuitively from is like no other! Thank you for sharing all that do, you are a super-talented soul!
    wow, love your gorgeous mouse, such a beautiful spirit, fantastic work!
    I always enjoy visiting your magical world, shine on friend!

    1. Victoria! I am so happy you dropped by and so appreciative of the time taken to share your thoughts. Like stars across the night sky it is always a thrill to know others are out there, aligned and shining as well. Thank you too for being one of them! :)

  2. Hello Nicolas, so glad you stopped by, and hopefully you are back posting because you are feeling better!
    I so agree with this post. I painted in my head for years when my girls were little, thinking that was as good as actually painting, (as wierd as that sounds) but then when I finally started painting again I realized painting in your head is much easier. (Obviously) Paintings always worked the way I planned of course, and I didn't learn anything. Then with real paint there was SO much to learn, so many tricks to be worked out. Living in the middle of nowhere with no galleries; I love the internet for instant art galleries etc , and I do learn a lot from watching others online but until I made painting daily a practice I didn't really start growing as an artist. And you also learn how healing it is to mentally throw yourself into a creative activity. I love my newer abstract watercolors because they are so easy and yet I still learn from every one of them.

    Ok though, I have to admit, all that said, ... I am LOVING instagram lately. I actually want to post daily there and yet it is getting harder to find the time to blog. (Now I feel so guilty for admitting that). But you inspire me to keep at the blog...

    And lastly... I LOVE Chettes!

    1. Hi Andrea! Yes, finally feeling 100%!

      I loved hearing about how you painted internally!! I certainly can relate to that. I 've had all sorts of creative shows in my head over the years. Some of those led to me actually pursuing things like multimedia shows etc that I would never have if I had not done them 1000 times in my head. :)

      I completely agree with all you said. Even the admission about instagram. :) You also grew INTO the internet age and and my thoughts on it are more geared towards some of the kids I encounter who never knew a different time and who have taken to thinking that it's a way to make yourself into something creatively without doing the work. Its not meant to be critical. Ive seen people start out and post their very first work on those sites then be discouraged because they didn't get the reaction they needed to keep them going. Whereas some of us just kept making things, working thru our initial learning curves and having no instant outlet for it, you just kept at it because you loved doing it. That builds, over time, an internal belief and thats what is needed to take us far further than any instant adoration online ever could, I believe.

      I appreciate all the inspiration I can receive from short bursts of online exploring and I have to admit that the internet has allowed my written world to expand greatly through sites that collect the most interesting and odd customs, folklore, myths or cultural anomalies. I just realize more and more that it can't replace the same open expression that our art, our written words and the vulnerability that comes with that as well as the time invested in it can provide. :)

      Thank you SO much for coming by and commenting. I love thoughts that keep making me think and rethink my own.

  3. What a wonderful little mouse and such intriguing thoughts. Thanks for making me see things a little differently today.

    1. Lisa, Thank you so much for dropping in and commenting! I'm glad the words gave you pause and allowed a new perspective to arise. I hope always to inspire and offers something from within. At least that is what I aim for. . .

  4. "I am befuddled by the number of people who set out to try something, creative or otherwise and, if it is not an instant success or at the very least, if it does not quickly show signs of being so, they move on." - YES. And Nicolas, time & time again I am struck by your ability to soar high above all the little people going about their art and such, creating with their ancient crafts then fiddling with the modern world to reach people. It seems like this odd juxtaposition. And you have nailed it all here - the fear of it, the frustration in it and the reasons to just keep going. I love your posts, that they are long and informative. I read them all. Thank you for your huge contribution to our little sweet corner. I will buy your book. Hell, I'll even be at the opening to get a signing. <3

    1. Hello Louise! I am so glad you shared these thoughts! I DO love this little corner of the world we gather in and I am so happy to have such inspired, creative souls who take the time to come by and visit.

      We're all making our way thru and I feel like each year it becomes a bit more important to think about what I'll leave behind. Accepting my views, my own path and ideas won't suit or help everyone but that if they find a home in the hearts of a few, if they open the for jus a bit or steer the ship a degree towards home, I have done my work well. :) THANK YOU!!

    2. Nicolas, I think you might get alot out of this interview. It's about 30 mins long.

    3. Thank you so much Louise! I will be listening today. : )

  5. Nicolas, you are a brilliant soul! I don't know what to say, except, your post really touched me!! Thank you!! Kind of made me laugh, when you were talking about your earlier creations and how grateful you were that people bought them! Me too! LOL! And, at the same time, sometimes, I wonder, if I should continue. Lots of people love crows, but many don't. I think in some years, I even tried to "paint" like how other people wanted me too, and that was horrible, because I wasn't true to me!
    It does take time!!
    Sometimes, I ask the people around me, "family members", what they think of my art, but I have to stop doing that too! You have to be true to your soul!! I don't know how to explain, how much I have grown over the years and I know this has affected my art. My dream and I know I will get there one day, is to have my own studio in my own home!
    Love your little Market Mouse!
    Big Crow Hugs!

    1. Stacy I love your comment. Thank you for sharing all of this!

      I have zero doubt that you SHOULD continue because what you paint is in your heart. Just doing it every day is how we get from point A to point B, even when point B is not what we thought way back when we started. But that's how life is, yes? The best laid plans. . .

      As for crows, no not everyone loves them but what have found is that if I look at what I set out to do with any creative endeavor in my life and then, where it took me, they are never the same. I did not intend to make fairy houses for a living. Nor Egyptian/ancient statues. That grew out of just exploring paths and then, following the signposts along the way s well as my heart, of course. But my heart didn't even know this was what it wanted. All I knew was that wanted desperately to do something creative for a living. That left a wide field of possibilities. And somehow the two paths four ME!

      As for you, well, I see the way your work grows and the path you are on will lead you where you ned to be. Your work IS evolving and perhaps that is exactly where it is meant to take you in it's own time. Deeper into yourself and then, that opens the door for others to connect with you/your work.

      Keep all the possibilities on the table as long as you can. . . at least until something shimmers like a thread of gold in amongst them all that you can follow with certainty. And keep exploring as new possibilities open to you.
      We sometimes don't see that we can get where we want to be but the path itself may look nothing like we imagined. . . so just follow when your heart pulls you. . . and DO leave that breadcrumb trail in case you have to backtrack a bit because we all do. lol

      You've inspired my next post with your comments too!
      Big, feathered crow HUGS!!

    2. You are a special friend! Thank you!!!