Archive for Artist Date

(Watching) All the Lonely People

Posted in Inspiration with tags , , , , , , , , , , on December 8, 2011 by Gideon K

 

Last week I was at a shopping centre and it occurred to me that it was a perfect opportunity to take an artist date that I’d been planning to do for a long while and had not gotten round to doing.

 

The idea I had was to go to some public place with a pad and pen and just watch people, but also to write down snippets of overheard conversation that caught my ear (stuff like “one of my kids goes 8 times a day” which I heard on the day in question), or to just imagine what people’s lives were like and try to figure out specific things about them just by observing them from a distance.

 

The venue for this ended up being an open-plan starbucks. You know the type where it’s just a sunken space in the floor surrounded by shops on all sides.

 

I don’t like starbucks, and their coffee sucks, but it was the perfect place to mingle with the beast.

 

I wanted to find a table to sit at so I’d be in close proximity to as many people as possible, but a combination of poor luck and judgement found me a seat between two tables of people speaking foreign languages I didn’t understand. On one side, an asian couple (Korean possibly? I’m terrible with languages but it didn’t sound like Japanese) and on the other, I couldn’t make it out. They could’ve been Spanish but I had no clue. It drove home how ignorant I am about so much in the world, and how I’d like to be less so.

 

On an unrelated note, I’ve been feeling this lately when walking through the park and wondering what the names of different flowers and trees are.

 

Back to my seating – to make matters worse, I sat down to realise I was in the direct line of fire for one of the speakers on the in-store sound system, getting blasted with yuppyish coffee shop tunes. To be fair the music soon got pretty good actually, but when Joni Mitchell was playing and I thought to myself – “She deserves more than this”. I’m not an elitist but I guess I feel irritated when great music gets ignored, even if it is necessary. Plus I suppose it’s preferable to hearing current Top 40 nonsense.

 

Then Van Morrisson’s Sweet Thing came on. Sweet Thing! In a coffee shop! Such sublime, intensely personal and beautiful music, just spread out like furniture or cheap incense from a stall in Camden market. I don’t know how people can just go about their business while a song like that is playing. Maybe that’s why the staff were so friendly? Such a good playlist.

I zoned out and couldn’t focus on people anymore.

 

I started swimming in my own thoughts and the people around me were just triggering different currents rather than me observing them. It seemed like that was the instinctual thing to do so I went with it. I can look outside another time.

 

I was writing down silly observations and ideas, like:

 

“The only thing I have against money is that the people who have it are so crass and unimaginative about what they do with it.”

 

Lots of off the cuff reactions and occasional judgements of my fellow humans. I actually felt strange and peaceful amongst these passing waves of suburban housewives, young worker drones, bored school kids and elderly couples slowly navigating their way around what passes for modern life, thoroughly confused and surprised at what any of it means or what they’re doing in it.

 

It felt a bit like meditation. Whereas most of the time with meditation you go as far away from people and noise as possible, and you close your eyes. This was like the flip-side of the same coin in a way. With my eyes open, surrounded by crowds I was having a similar feeling of awareness, of self, of place and time, and concurrently at the complete irrelevance and absence of all of that. How it’s all just a continuation of motion, flow, little droplets of life foaming up against rocks and sand. Everyone seeing everybody else’s mistakes and not their own. Pretty girls spending their looks and youth on their jobs working in the make up aisles selling stolen dreams and aromatic white lies.

 

Surrounded by the almost religious ritual of nurturing the appearance, the body via clothing, food, make up, perfume, scented toiletries and cleansing products – you know the drill, we all live in it.

 

As I scribbled down in my pad, in this context, hope is sometimes the denial or rejection of that inevitable decline of organism, the body working. Or maybe it’s just what happens when you realise that the soul is the winning horse, not the mind, the senses, the heart, the wallet.

 

Know what I mean?

 

Anyway, I also went out and did it today as well. I stopped into a little place for some fresh mint tea they had and sat and watched the people. Strangely, again I was sat listening in on foreign tongues (greek and Arabic this time), as well as being somewhat removed from the masses.

 

Perhaps I need to think this out a bit more and find some places which are more packed with people to watch and listen to. Hopefully one day they’ll make some sense to me.

 

 

The Artist’s Way: Week 12

Posted in Creativity, The Artist's Way with tags , , , , , , , , , , on November 7, 2011 by Gideon K

This is my last check-in post on here. The end of week 12 means the end of the course. I may have a post or two in the future to give more perspective on the whole experience, but other than that I’m going to be doing more topical kinds of posts I was doing before, as well as new experiments.

Morning Pages: 6 ½ /7

Friday I only did half the amount, so it really was exactly 6 ½. I had to get up to go to an audition. My mind was already quite focused on that and the pages just didn’t feel necessary or useful that day.

I only did 4 days of song pages this week, which isn’t bad but it’s nothing to write home about. I know what the problems were here. I haven’t gotten back to recording my songs or making demos at home over the last few months particularly. Nowhere near as much as I should or need to. The pages work best when in conjunction with playing and recording songs.

In a way though, it’s better that I’ve not done that until now that I’ve finished the course. Now is my chance to put the teachings, learning and experience to the test and get into work mode, as opposed to the quasi monk-like learning, receptive mode I’ve been cultivating. Now I can get on with bulldozing my way through my backlog of songs etc.

Artist Date: Yes

I took my bass down to the guitar centre and spent an hour or two trying out nearly every bass amp they had that took my fancy. They didn’t have the ones I really wanted to try in stock, but anyway the experience was fun, useful and now I have more direct experience, sonic reference points and knowledge of bass amps in general.

It mostly confirmed my previously held views that a) Modelling amps, Digital amps and the like are completely useless b) I’ll never be the owner of a Marshall amp – they’re just so damn awful mostly. c) Just like with guitars, the majority of gear that can be bought in a guitar shop is shit and of little-to-no use.

I was talking with the guys who worked there and all of them had the same stance I did regarding new guitars – they’d never buy one.

Regarding these artist dates, I need to maintain them on a permanent basis as I now know what their purpose and effect is. They keep me charged and invigorated, force me to confront myself and to have fun.

Also this week I went to an Artist’s Anonymous meeting. A friend of mine has been going to one and finds it useful, and so I went to check it out on her recommendation. I can’t say it was really my thing, structured as it was around the 12-Step recovery program and catered to that way of dealing with things. It made me realise more how I’m something of a solitary worker, and that I tend to do a lot of my more constructive work and thinking when I’m alone. I’ve always liked the idea of group discussion and group work etc but I guess everyone has their own ways. Either that or I haven’t tried it out with the right people.

Synchronicity:

I put up a bunch of ads online looking for a drummer, a bassist, and a guitarist, or some combination of these with the aim of getting a band together. I’ve been looking in a semi-productive way for the last couple of months, but not in a focused, determined way. I’ve had a lot of stuff on my plate last month to be fair, but now is the time. I had a case of the ‘Fuck it’s and put together some semi-outrageous ads using hyperbolic descriptions and dramatic flair, to make it fun for myself to post them as much as for the potential reader.

The sheer number of responses I’ve had over the past 3-4 days has been pretty cool. I checked my spam filter for the first time in weeks and found a whole lot more had been hidden in there. I didn’t even post musical links on the ad itself so people were responding to the sheer attitude of the text. Which was nice.

I already know that several of them won’t work out and are quite possibly insane people contacting me, but hey – rough with the smooth.

I reached out to the void and it has responded. Now I have to step up and take what has been offered.

Also, the other week I had a group of guys who are already in a band contacting me via youtube after they found my profile on a music forum. They wanted me to be their singer, which is exactly the role I’m looking for, so I went to meet up with them for a jam.

I want to get a band together so badly, but slowly the pieces are starting to move closer. They’re nowhere near in place, but there is definite motion.

So…..

I’ve come to the end of this particular journey or quest.

How do I feel about it? I’m not sure. I don’t feel like there is any sense of closure from doing the course.

In a way, I’ll miss having a weekly set of tasks to do. It’s nice to have a set path to follow rather than face it alone out there in the big scary world. Despite my vehement hatred of being in school, it wasn’t the student-teacher relationship, or being a pupil I disliked. They just weren’t teaching me what (I thought) I wanted to know. When it comes to art, creativity, play, music etc – I’m ALWAYS a student, and a good student. I do my homework, put apples on the teacher’s desk, put my hand up in class… hell I’d stay after the lesson for extracurricularactivies with ALL my teachers at that school.

I think that is one of the main things I’ve enjoyed about the course – having someone (or in this case the whole canon of creative minds of history being quoted) to look to, to learn from, to try suggestions from, to learn how to nurture myself and better myself free of any ulterior motives or misguided ideas. Something I could trust myself with.

In the past I’ve lamented not really having any mentors in my life that I knew on a personal basis, not having someone older, smarter, wiser in artistic areas to look up to. I’m over that generally speaking, and now just look to learn from whoever and whatever, whenever I can – including this book.

I’ll be a lot more free time-wise, and also artistically because I feel even stronger, more self-maintaining and self-sufficient as an artist and a person in general. This whole chapter has just been another step forward that I have to continue, as I have always done – in my own way. I’ll find other quests and challenges soon enough.

What I’m getting at is that it doesn’t feel like anything is finished.

I feel a bit like a cannonball. I have been propelled forward for the last 3 months, but I’m only now just clear of the barrel, flying through the air unaided by anything other than my own momentum and the initial decision to light the fuse.

I’m back on my own again and it feels good. Most probably because I’m not really on my own, I have my inner guidance, higher guidance, and my ears pricked for what the universe has to say today. I’m in the thick of it. And I’m smiling.

I know my way to get to the unknown, which is where I want to be.

The Artist’s Way: Week 11

Posted in Creativity, The Artist's Way with tags , , , , , , , , on October 30, 2011 by Gideon K

This was officially supposed to be Monday 17th – Sunday 23rd, but due to the way things have panned out has included several days from the past week and I’m doing the write up now.

Days I did my morning pages: 5/7 then 4/7

Some days I purposefully didn’t do them because I thought they might do more damage than good given my state of mind. Perhaps on these days I would’ve benefited the most from them. Perhaps not.

I did a LOT of song pages the first half of my 2-week-long ‘week 11’. They seem to have covered more ground, but especially towards the end of the week they felt like they were soulless in a way and counter-productive towards the things I think matter in a songs. I haven’t finished any of the songs I’ve been working on which frustrates me.

Artist Date:

I don’t think I’ve done anything that could really count as an artist date over the past two weeks. I’ve played two gigs, put in time doing piano practice, been shopping for clothes and vinyl etc in a few charity shops. That was one of my dates, but to me should be something I do on a weekly/bi-weekly basis anyway.

This brings me on to the crux of the problem and the reason for me running so spectacularly out of steam during the past week. I’ve been working really hard. Long hours, much blood and sweat, determination and grit. The problem is that I’m not rewarding myself for it, and am taking the fun out of it the way I have been going about it.

Several problems preside:

a) Lack of artist dates – my inner child feels neglected and doesn’t want to play. It also illustrates a kind of cowardice and neglect on my part because facing up to the necessity for fun and seemingly unproductive recreation is the only way the creative side can survive and flourish, let alone maintain any degree of output.

b) Having urges to experiment or side track into certain realms of creativity, but my organised mind telling myself; ‘Hold on, wait. We’ll get to that bit later once this other stuff is finished first’. The thing is, it never works like that, and besides the work is never truly finished.

If I’m writing a bunch of songs tied together in a certain way, in a certain style, around certain themes, then it is vitally important that I indulge myself and allow myself to go off and experiment with creating other types of sounds, experimenting with just making musical loops for the hell of it, playing with guitar pedals I know I’m not going to use, trying to create rhythms in strange time signatures because this is the kind of balance I need. I already know this about myself from all this time spent playing, writing, creating, and yet I still try and override it or ignore it – and only to my own detriment I might add. When will I learn?

Hopefully now.

c) It is this same side of my brain and pattern of thought that has let my fun muscle degenerate to a degree. The other issue here is that all the ideas I have had regarding fun things to do initially were all centred around musical tasks and were in essence adjuncts to my main work. As fun as many of these are, I need more things that are purely fun and don’t have to tie in with some sort of function. More activities and pursuits that aren’t required to fit into my musical goals, or my health regimen etc.

I’ve made a long list of future artist dates, fun and nurturing and posted it up on the wall. Some of these things are to be ticked off and some are to be done repeatedly every-so-often.

In order to emphasise the point I opened the dictionary and copied out the full definition of the word ‘fun’ and posted it on the wall in front of my desk where all my other quotes and bits of wisdom go.

Fun

Noun:

1 Light-hearted pleasure or amusement

2 Source of this

3 Playfulness or good humour

Adjective: enjoyable.

From Wiki:

Fun is the enjoyment of pleasure and, according to Johan Huizinga, “an absolutely primary category of life, familiar to everybody at a glance right down to the animal level.” Fun may be encountered in many human activities during work, social functions, recreation and play, and even seemingly mundane activities of daily living. The distinction between enjoyment and fun is difficult to articulate but real,fun being a more spontaneous, playful, or active event. The perception of time is shortened when one is “having fun”.

This isn’t to give the impression that I’m a grouch – I find my art for the most part more enjoyable and enriching than anything else I’ve found otherwise I wouldn’t do it. The problem is when it becomes very hard work and I don’t give myself little rewards just for their own sake. I get burned out, and maintaining my art, nurturing the flame is part of this responsibility I’ve agreed to take on.

The crazy thing is how simple, small and easy it is to do this and yet I’ve neglected it, as I’m sure many others have too.

I never would’ve identified myself as having any even vaguely workaholic traits before, and I suppose constantly worrying if you’re being lazy is itself a workaholic trait, unless you are just being lazy. I have just never found a way of being consistently productive at this level of intensity before, but if I do my duty and guarantee myself enough fun, there’s no reason it can’t last.

I have to cut myself some slack here too. Apart from burning myself out by not doing artist dates, it has been a very busy month with lots of sporadic changes in my job-working hours, a bunch of festivals that have prohibited much or anything in the form of output and work, and some other family stuff like my grandfather passing away. So there has not been as much time to get all the tasks done.

Plus, I’ve been out a fair bit seeing friends, gigs, indulging in this strange thing they call ‘fun’, albeit not by myself as prescribed.

I feel like I might have lost a bit of momentum in giving myself the slack of an extra week to cut back and clean everything up, but I felt that moving onto the next week without doing the dishes from this one would’ve been leading me to a worse calamity.

Week 12 starts tomorrow. I’ll see you at the finish line folks.

The Artist’s Way: Week 10

Posted in Creativity, The Artist's Way with tags , , , , , , , on October 17, 2011 by Gideon K

Days I did my morning pages: 6/7

I’ve been doing what I call my ‘Song pages’ every day too. New ground, new ideas, new levels of involvement. Had an interesting breakthrough on one song the other day by forcing myself to continue and over-ride the (cowardly) urge to stop, to avoid what they call a ‘creative U-turn’. I forced myself to do everything my head was thinking of, however pointless or menial it seemed at first. I’m glad I did, because once a task has been cleared, another idea pops up right behind it. It was useful. I ended up doing 3 pages that day and am nearly finished the song I think.

It’s funny, just when I thought I was being really cool and hardcore with the pages I read in the book that it’s a lot easier to get people to do the pages than it is the artist dates. Gulp. I suppose part of that is that I don’t have to go anywhere to do my pages, but it unavoidably led me to another realisation.

I think I’ve come to the end of another growth or learning curve and need to step up to another. I’m looking forward more. Doing the pages and writing, I’m not rewarding myself enough or giving myself little treats and rewards as much as I should be.

It’s not enough to just be creative and do creative tasks I’m supposed to. I have to play with them and actively engage in making them fun. I know what my work load is going to involve for the next 6 months to a year at least, and simply knowing that can make it somewhat boring or turn it into drudgery, so I have to devise ways to keep myself entertained, keep some free time to include spontaneous acts of freewheeling and fanciful detours, distractions, more fun and more decorations everywhere. I feel as though up to now and until the end of the course I’ve been building a solid frame work and a base for myself to continue being consistently creative without being fragile or subject to any winds of fortune or favour – I’m going to be creating for myself regardless of circumstance. What is next is to keep it up but to keep playing with it all and adding more twists to the everyday to prevent anything from becoming mundane.

 

 

Artist Date:

I didn’t do it alone, but I’m going to count it because it recharged me somewhat and was purely for the pleasure and entertainment of my artistic side. I invited a whole bunch of musicians over for a jam. Funnily enough it ended up as just me and a friend of mine playing guitar and some inept drumming on both our parts.

I mentioned the prospect of it and have been sounding people out about it for ages and everyone is always saying ‘Yeah, definitely, call me,’ and then on the day it just didn’t happen that way, but it worked out for the best actually. We had a good talk and good fun playing which is what it’s all about.

It’s been too long since I’d last done that. Too often I’ve only been playing in scenarios where everyone is tied to some sort of (often imaginary) schedule and pressure is on to deliver magic etc at every opportunity and no time is dedicated to just experimenting and trying to find a groove with each other as people, or exploring musical tangents that might not have a ‘use’. Being in bands where this thing happens can be a huge drain on incentive momentum, morale and enthusiasm. I’ve always been of the opinion that bands should have dedicated time at every rehearsal to just make some noise together of any kind and invent weird and wonderful or even dreadful music. Each exploration brings back new experiences even if that is the knowledge that jungle-funk-tango-punk doesn’t quite sound as good as the title suggests.

It has been a very busy week outside of trying to do creative things so not a lot else to report on that front. I think I’ve figured that the trick with me is just to keep doing things differently each time and switch them around to keep me from being to set in a certain way of doing things.

I’ve realized a number of erroneous habits I have that I’ve started to avoid doing simply because the nature of these bad habits irritates the hell out of me and so once I’m aware of it I start to gravitate away from them. I’m not spending as much time wasting my life on the internet anymore, or finding pointless tasks to do in order to avoid doing more serious, pressing or intimidating ones.

One area of progress I’ve made is that I finished sorting out all my songs and song sheets into tidy folders so that they are all easily accessible when I want to look them up or work on something.

Over the years I’ve accumulated sheets upon sheets of paper filled with lyric drafts and song ideas etc and I’ve got them split up now broadly in two giant ringbinders, with alphabetical separators.

The first folder is for all my finished songs and their accompanying sheets, because some of my songs went through about fifty-something different versions and revisions before being finished and I try to keep them all for reference/posterity/proof of authorship etc.

The other one where I keep all the started songs that I haven’t finished, and there are lots of them, some that I got stuck with, some that I needed distance and perspective on, some that I just started but didn’t make time to finish properly. I’ve had this kind of filing system in place for a while, but it just needed refining and tidying. My room and work area no longer has piles of loose papers and stray sheets stacked high.

Also, I thought I’d treat myself to some nice shiny alphabetical dividers, some of those plastic sheet covers to keep all my pages tidy and together and some other new stationary. I hate writing with cheap/found/borrowed pens that don’t write properly and how that frustration can take you out of the flow of writing. So I went and bought a pack of brand new ball point pens. It’s so funny how little things like that can make such a positive difference to your working environment and general well-being. It’s as if we assume that we are above such petty material concerns and think we should always make do with what we have, after all, there are people out there in the world who can’t afford such luxuries and make do with simply memorizing things rather than writing them down… and so on. But it all has a positive effect.

I’m coming to the end of the course and feel like it has allowed me to discover the way I work, what is good for me, and how to maintain and look after myself in the best way possible for the future.

Let’s see what they have in store for the last two weeks.

The Artist’s Way: Week 9

Posted in Creativity, The Artist's Way with tags , , , , , , , , on October 10, 2011 by Gideon K

Days I did my morning pages: 6/7

 

And on the 7th day he rested….

 

Actually it was the 6th day I didn’t do them. It was a day of fasting and atonement and contemplation and would not have been in the spirit of the day.

 

This week I’ve finally hit some serious pay-dirt with the pages. Regarding the size of the pages in my current notebook, I allow myself to do 2 pages of stream of consciousness, which is equivalent to 3 full pages in any other book, and then I use the 3rd page to write a full page-worth of ideas, thoughts, lyrics, re-writes etc of a song I’m working on. Just pick one and go. And the thing is, that I’ve done it each morning? And thus it works.

 

I’ve tried hard before, really hard, in heartbreaking terms, to find a daily, disciplined songwriting regime that I can stick to and that works for me. I’ve tried setting a timer and writing for an hour each day. I’ve tried chaining myself to the chair until I finish. I’ve tried a whole bunch of different ways. None of them have worked for me, and being cruel to myself, I figured that each time they didn’t work I was being lazy and not working hard enough, not wanting it bad enough etc, when the truth is that I’m not lazy I was trying really fucking hard, it just wasn’t the right method for me.

Now, I know I have a concrete goal which is basically write  and write, whatever I think about it, whatever avenue I want to explore with it and don’t stop until the page is finished. It just works for me and allows me the space to create and explore without having to get it right or wrong that I needed and that has seemingly been missing from all my other methods.

 

I did this every day that I did my pages, which is the first time I’ve ever said that I would repeatedly work on my songs every day – AND ACTUALLY DONE IT!!

 

If this had been the only thing I had gotten out of the course, it would be more than worth it and I would still be overjoyed. I’m finally on my own conveyor belt artistically instead of somebody else’s. I’ve made decent headway into several songs in this manner. None are yet completed, but they will be, soon, when the time comes.

 

Artist Date:

 

No I didn’t. I had planned to go people watching, to see if I could make up stories about what I thought people’s lives were like and what they were saying and feeling etc just by watching them from a distance. Or going to a crowded bar/café and noting down bits of stray conversation my ears picked up. I was going to do this for a bit on Thursday but failed to reserve enough time for it between what I was doing during the day and what I was doing in the evening. It will have to wait until I make the time for it either this week or next.

 

Can’t think of any synchronicity exactly. I’ve had a few gig offers and confirmations this week, but I’ve been contacting people about gigs for several weeks now. It seems logical rather than mystical.

 

They ask me about compassion, I think regarding myself. I’m totally cool with myself regarding my artistic side at the moment. This doesn’t mean I can’t do better, but I’m ok with me. I like me a lot.

 

I’m also feeling a lot more favorably disposed to people at the moment, more forgiving. I’m trying to clear out any cobwebs or bad feelings in my life towards people.

 

I finally got round to that exercise from week 6 about postcards. I sent off a bunch of emails to people I wanted to contact and say things to. People I haven’t spoken to, people I wanted to get things off my chest about, people I miss. Better late than never. I feel so much better doing this. I feel full of life, love, I feel clearer. It’s off my chest so to speak.

 

I also finally bought a keyboard and feel very happy. I can now use it to play midi parts on my demos as well as having easy access to a fully-functioning keyboard to practice and learn on. I’ve been playing it a little when I’ve had or made time. I started working through a book of small pieces to get good at reading music and get my L/R hand coordination back up again. Feels great.

 

I think once I’ve finished the course I’m going to go back and go through any and all taskt I didn’t get round to doing each week. There haven’t been that many, but one here and one there will add up I suppose. I want to lick the lid of artistic progress, drink every drop.

 

I’m very happy about finally doing song writing pages each morning. I know it will lead me on to big things.

 

What blessedly have you allowed yourself to change or accept? The glorious moment. Letting go of past failures. Smiling at the future. Flirting outrageously with what lies ahead. I want to be humbled further.

 

This great trip keeps getting better.

 

 

The Artist’s Way: Week 7

Posted in Creativity, The Artist's Way with tags , , , , , , , , , , on September 25, 2011 by Gideon K

Days I did my morning pages: 6/7

Today is the only day I didn’t do the pages on time. It was sunday, and sunday comes after saturday night…

I got round to sitting down and doing them around 5 or 6pm, completed them, and got something out of them, but the effect is never really the same as doing them first thing in the morning when you’re fresh.

This week’s check-in asks “Have you allowed yourself to daydream a few creative risks?” The answer is yes, definitely.

As I mentioned last time I’d had the idea of using my morning pages to write songs in. This is a great idea even if I say so myself, and I only received the idea through my aerial, I can’t take credit for it.

I’ll be spending a huge amount of time over the next few weeks, months etc and with any craft the hours you clock up take you to that place where extraordinary things happen – a place of mastery.

The only problem is that I’ve had it the wrong way round. I’ve been doing the pages first and trying to somehow write songs within the context and rules of that, which is wrong and doesn’t do anything good. The real approach is to write songs, and try and fit the goals of my morning pages into that context somehow. The emphasis then is the songs.

It reminds me of a story I read from Osho about two Monks talking about the idea of smoking and meditating at the same time. They both asked the Abbot and only one of them was allowed to smoke. It turned out they’d asked different questions.

Monk 1: Can I smoke while meditating?

Abbot: (Very Angrily) Never!

Monk 2: Can I meditate while smoking?

Abbot: That’s a great idea. Why waste time? While you are smoking, if you can meditate too that’s a great idea. Do it!

It’s been interesting, just brainstorming lyrical themes and ideas and peeling off lines, some good, some god-awful, but I think it’s important to write a lot of crap sometimes and clear your system out so that the good stuff can come out unhindered, and unsoiled.

Artist Date:

This week I had the special priviledge of a bass lesson with a hugely talented and skilled Jazz bassist Mick Coady. I wanted to be shown good technique, posture and such for playing the upright bass so that I didn’t start out with bad habits. It was a brilliant and hugely helpful experience for me. I love swimming in those waters that are unfamiliar enough to let me know I’m learning and seeing something new, but aren’t so deep or turbulent that I’m completely lost in them. Plus, my artist feels fulfilled and rewarded. I’ve now got lots of work to do on this instrument, but I know what I’m doing with it.

Other than that it’s been a relatively slow week artistry-wise. I’ve been more sociable recently though which has been much needed and rewarding.

Earlier in the book they mentioned the idea of luxury and how the feeling of it was quite easily achievable and in no way reliant on money. You just think of things that give you a sense of luxury

I happen to drink a lot of herbal tea. Red bush tea, a fair amount of green tea but only when caffeine is advantageous and not obstructive. I went this week and bought a whole bunch of different teas – Chai, decent Green Tea, Lemon and Ginger. This is part of the idea of spoiling yourself and giving yourself a feeling of luxury, and how inexpensive it is. I mean I bought loads of different teabags for about a fiver altogether. I drink a lot of tea and having lots of choice gives me a feeling of luxury, it’s SO easy to do but we often overlook these things and are needlessly stingy with ourselves. I’m gonna go to china town or to a Japanese place and get some REAL green tea soon.

I decided on something else regarding this way of thinking. I’m always snooping around charity shops for stuff – instruments, vinyl, books, but I’ve hardly bought that much in the way of clothes from them over the years mostly because it’s usually filled with stuff too shit for grandad to wear anymore.

I’ve used being broke over the past year as an excuse to deny myself any sort of luxury in the clothes department. Part of this has been necessary as a means of keeping a fixed parameter whilst trying to monitor other personal changes, but in a lot of ways it does not do one’s sense of well-being much good.

Coupled with the recent clearing out of a lot of stuff I own, getting rid of pretty much any clothing I have that I don’t love to some degree, has left my wardrobe a lot more empty. I’m never going to go through the feeling of wearing something that makes me feel shit in it ever again if I can help it.

Long-story-short: I picked up a jumper/cardigan for a couple of quid the other week, and I love it. I really enjoy wearing it, and so if I can get such a beneficial feeling out of just wearing a simple cardigan, why should I deny myself such a low-cost and easily achievable buzz? I’ve made a kind of pact with myself now, once a week or fortnight, I will buy one piece of clothing, even a belt, or a hat or something, which I REALLY like. Something cool and individualistic and ‘ME’. Or at least I’m going to keep an eye out for that something.

I still haven’t splurged on an electric piano. I don’t know why I haven’t just jumped in and bought one. I know which model I’m going to get and everything, it’s just silly. I can’t go anywhere near one without playing my relatively limited repetoire on it or figuring out new things on it all the time – I’m obsessed. Synchronicity seems to come in here too because I keep finding myself in situations where there is a piano to hand. So that is on the to-do list.

Other than that, everything is going ok. I’ve started making moves towards putting a band together, and to getting a few things moving regarding my future plans but currently they are top secret. You’ll have to stay tuned to find out.

The Artist’s Way: Week 6

Posted in Creativity, The Artist's Way with tags , , , , , , , , on September 21, 2011 by Gideon K

Slightly later than intended, but it’s been a thoroughly heavy weekend.

Days I did my morning pages: 7/7

A few days in I finished the notebook I started when I began the course and had to start writing in a new one. The new notebook is also A4 paper, but the lines are a lot closer together, so there are far more lines, and thus far more writing is required in order to fill 3 pages worth. I’m fine with this – it feels right to be intensifying the process round about now. I was getting too comfortable with the old way.

However, 2 of the days since I started the new size pages, I only got about one and two thirds of a page done. This is roughly equivalent of 2.5 – 3 pages in my old pad. I wasn’t slacking, I just ran out of time. So I’m going to count them as done anyway. I did the work.

The Check-in asked me how I feel about the pages. I love them. They have become my pathway into stillness and release. I engage with them and play with them and confess to them. Now I’ve had an insight and inspiration regarding how to approach using them. We’ll see what happens.

Artist Date:

Yes, but not in the solitary sense. I met up with my friend Isaac and we worked on some Jazz theory and improvisation for guitar, 2-5-1 changes, which chords A Harmonic Minor Scale works best over etc. It was a good start and great fun.

Also, I’ve just spent the past weekend on a meditation retreat on a farm in Shropshire. That was really something. Not what I expected, because I didn’t have any expectations. I realised a lot about creativity, flow, growth…

I’d never really done any meditation in the ‘sitting still on the floor for half an hour’ kind of way, but it really allowed me to get my head around a lot of the changes that have been taking place in me and around me over the past 6 weeks, and further back than that.

I wrote a whole page in my end of week check-in just on issues that have been important to my recovery. I won’t go into them here because to simply list them out would not really explain them and that would not pass on any useful information to anyone. These things may very well come out in later posts I make and articles I write.

The two main things that I took from the weekend that are tangible and for sharing are:

1)      The idea that had not occurred to me until now, of using the morning pages as canvas for writing songs with, and examining the materials I put into songs.

2)      I became aware for the first time, of the destructive potential that comes with all the increased amount of energy you wield when you are going through creative and spiritual growth. Once you are aware of it, there’s really no choice but to just be more conscious and careful about it. It’s easy to destroy things and show the world what a big cheese you are, but that doesn’t bring you any closer to people and doesn’t make responsible, constructive use of the gift.

I had a strange realisation too regarding the ritual of doing a task again and again, be it meditation, morning pages, songwriting, guitar playing, cooking, anything. When you start writing songs, every one of them seems a unique and separate entity. You pay inordinate amounts of attention to every detail and the songs themselves do not always flow out of you because you are still battling with a degree of perfectionism.

When you are engaged in doing something ritualised and possibly repetitive, it’s important to stick with it because your body and mind eventually start changing things and playing with them, because the creative mind does not tolerate boredom. You realise that if one attempt doesn’t turn out the way you want or go as well as you’d like, it doesn’t matter because each new day, each new moment offers a fresh opportunity to try again.

I’ll try and explain this by example.

Morning pages: You do pretty much the same thing everyday – just write, write, write until you have 3 pages. Fine. Once you’ve been doing it for a week, none of them are a big deal or special, they all just flow together and you realise that they’re all just blank and forgiving canvases to play with. None of it lasts and none of it matters, so you just do whatever you feel like writing in that moment. It doesn’t come out good or bad, it’s just you experimenting and indulging any ideas you have. Your responsibility is merely to be true to the moment and get it down.

Songwriting and all creative work should be the same. You keep showing up. You will never run out of ideas as long as you are engaging with some form of action, because the DOING negates any need for THINKING.

It’s hard to explain, but I realised all processes of doing the same thing over and over, like meditation, prayer, guitar practice are all different ways of achieving the same thing – a state of flow, and being ok with whatever point along the river you are because you are simply moving at your own natural speed. You arrive at a place where there is no right or wrong, no good or bad work, only creation and it all comes out however it wants to come out.

Thus there is a specific merit to any work that requires repeated action of a similar kind, because it provides a solid foundation for you to explore and mess with your own parameters, to experiment freely and discover new things.

Side note: I’m so caught up in the process of this thing and flowing with it that I don’t know if I’m completely losing everyone when I try to convey my thoughts about these things.

Apart from that, it was a treat to spend time in the quiet of the country, breathing fresh air and cow shit, and eating nothing all weekend that had not been grown on the farm. I’ve never tasted tomatoes so good in living recollection. A refreshing experience.

The whole weekend felt like a conclusion to one phase of my life, and the pause before the start of another. Nothing to do with meditation or the content of the weekend itself, but the timing was perfect.

The last few months, even the whole of the past year, my only focus has been on getting some work together in a way which I can actually present to people and say ‘This is my work’, and be proud of it, not feeling bad or unworthy because of hang-ups or bad memories to do with how compromised the work has been due to unfavourable circumstances or environments that aren’t conducive to good results. I now have music that I can play to people and feel proud that it met my expectations, and surpassed them, that I’ve done a good job on them.

My whole persona and focus has now shifted. I’m not as inclined to be closed off and outside from society and the world at large, cocooned in a creative cave and waiting to unleash my pretties into the sky. I’m entering a period of engaging and taking on the world. Of reaching out and sticking my flag on top of the mountain that I’m climbing.

It’s a good feeling.

I’ve also had the inner warnings of the fact that I’m coming up to a point where I may be vulnerable and a target for other people. I actually had a really vivid dream the other night where myself and a couple of my friends that I was with became targets of violence simply because we were so open and unassuming in the way we went about our business, and closed off people didn’t take to us very well. It was strange, but I woke up with what I felt was a clear understanding of where this was coming from.

You get to a certain point with growth where your energy becomes palpable to other people. I’ve had this confirmed via discussion with others this week and while it does not make me want to rethink the whole process or journey, I do know I have to take care of how I receive inevitable criticisms from people, and that I must continue to fastidiously do my pages and check-ins in order to consolidate the breakthroughs and realisations I have, or risk losing them to the wind anytime I receive some kind of attack or blow.

I know this may come across as paranoia, but it’s merely a shift in awareness from merely myself, to how I fit in as myself with other people.

The challenge now is to keep going to the end of the course rather than peter out now that I’ve passed the halfway point.