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Guest Post by Author Kate Lansing: What Makes an Artist? @lansingkm

I went to the Chihuly exhibit at the Denver Botanic Gardens recently and it was absolutely breathtaking! I loved the way the gorgeous glass pieces melted into the natural surroundings, mimicking stalks of grass, tropical birds, gathering bubbles, or (much to my chagrin) snakes. There seemed to be a symbiotic relationship between the garden and the glass, each enhancing the beauty of the other.I wondered about the artist, Dale Chihuly. How did he come up with his art? What was his process? Did his work, his vision, receive criticism for being expensive to produce? But it turns out there’s an even more interesting debate at the center of Chihuly’s art.

You see, in 1976 Chihuly was in a car accident that left him blind in one eye (hence his trademark eye-patch) and due to a separate accident, he lost the use of one arm. He doesn’t actually create his pieces anymore, he physically can’t. Instead, he has a team of glass blowers that he directs. Since he’s not actually producing his own creations, is Chihuly an artist?

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Let Your Brain Play (with a roadtrip!)

Creative people are notorious for getting wrapped up in their work. Especially when we love what we do. I know I’ve missed coffee dates and meals when in the middle of writing an exciting scene or am almost done with a painting. The worst is when I put off going to the bathroom because I’m on a roll. How sad is that? (Yes, there were a couple close calls. But I’m a grown childless woman. Accidents don’t happen at my stage in life.)

After a while of being sucked in, we may notice our work has become a little stagnant. Our paintings don’t have the unique perspective as they used to. Our novels don’t have the voice or plot lines we strive for.

We pull our heads out of our work to figure out what the crap is going on. And we realize we’ve become so wrapped up in creating perfect scenery we forgot to actually go visit some scenery. Or we tried so hard to perfect that snappy line of dialogue we haven’t entered dialogue with another person in a long time.

Our brains need space to play, especially as creative people. We forget to splash in puddles, squish mud between our fingers, listen to the waves crashing, or even try a new flavor of tea. We need to experience life in order to be inspired by it. Without playtime, our creative work can become colorless and rote.

Which is why I’m taking a road trip.

Road_trip
Original photo found here: http://goo.gl/8fMPb3
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Q: is for DON’T QUIT #AtoZchallenge

QWhenever I start a new project, I feel this tingly-tickle way down in my toes and undeniable urge telling me to charge forward. I jump into planning, and I’m an adult on a sugar-rush without actually consuming candy and calories.

Then my little bony ankles get wet and bring me to my senses. I take a moment to stare at the river I’m wading in and the tingly-tickle gives way to an oh-crap-belly-drop. What did I get myself into?

And I want to quit. The river’s too wild. The project’s too big. My novel’s too outside my comfort zone. My painting’s too much outside my skill level. The _____ is too ______.

Maryanne_rodmacher
original photo found here: http://goo.gl/KiZXx2
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