Thursday

The Art of Happiness

Inspiration from The American In Paris Gallery

Waking up with passion!
Good morning all!  I literally just woke up as I stand here with mountains of wild "bedhead".  Isn't old age wonderful?!!!  Now that I've crossed some major pivot points in my life I am allowing myself to just have fun and enjoy life and, frankly, I'm having the time of my life!   One of the wonderful things about getting older is that we gain so much life experience that we also get to enjoy sharing our life experience and the priceless gems of wisdom with others.  But enough about me.  This article is actually about YOU!  So this week I thought I'd also spend time using myself as a source of light for others by writing an article for all of you on how to use our imagination to harness our "creative juices" as it relates to, yes, you guessed it: "The Art of Happiness".

How to Get Inspired
As for how to get inspired, for now I will keep it "simple".  So all I am going to say about the "The Art of Happiness" is what I found that always works for me.  First I start by doing something I enjoy.  For example, obviously I LOVE art!  To get inspired I personally love waking up to a good cup of coffee, listening to French Radio from Paris, dancing to invoke the spirit of creativity, reading a good book, traveling, going to museums, cafes, into antique stores, junk shops, international food markets, plays, concerts, working in my garden, walking my dog, especially going for long hikes to appreciate nature, having picnics, especially in front of the beach, being outdoors at night looking at the stars and constellations at night with a twinkle in my eye, seeing the gods of mythology above me in the heavens while on a blanket with my head on a pillow before going to sleep...  These activities are "inspirational" and replenish my soul and ignite the imagination.  We are all so unique in our own way.  So when it comes to unleashing your own creativity and being inspired by life I highly recommend starting by making sure to take an assessment of your own interests and spend more time finding your own art of happiness by doing what you enjoy!

Celebrate Your Uniqueness!
I also highly recommend learning to embrace your own uniqueness!  This lesson was a hard one for me personally.  When it comes to how I became an artist, I speak from genuine life experience...  I say this because when I first returned from spending my time as a bohemian in Paris, I personally spent years feeling like a fish out of water in America.  No one could put me in a box!!!  I was part bohemian, part entertainer, dancer, part provacateur, part philosopher, photographer, and an artist at heart.  And deep down I was also a spiritual human being.  Now I'm having a blast combining all these facets of myself as the "American In Paris" artist.  But it literally took me long time to realize that my life experience in Paris was one of the greatest gifts that made me the person I am today, even if I did turn out to be a crazy artist after all.  That's just superficial.  For I know I am actually a spiritual shaman with a profound connection to the devine spirit of creativity!  That's how I finally was able to navigate myself into "The Art of Happiness".  And isn't having "genuine" love and happiness in our hearts what life is about?

What is the price of  our happiness?
Having genuine love and happiness in our hearts is priceless!  For me, I guess I'm also discovering that one of the wonderful things about getting old is we finally get to just embrace and celebrate who we really are, the complete personality, the wrinkles, even the "bedhead" and all... By following my bliss I have more passion and energy now than I did decades ago!   In fact, last night I was up until 4AM sketching and working on two new paintings.  They are turning out very "post impressionist".   Paris is in my DNA!  For happiness I also have my daily rituals, such as walking my dog while picking wild berries from my gardens. Oliver, my dog, also loves berries and our daily ritual together... Isn't life a beautiful when its seen as a ritual?  At some point I will write an article on "daily rituals".  But for now I will keep it simple.  My daily ritual always begins with a good cup of coffee and art.  For me, it's the art of my American in Paris gallery.  But for you it may be something completely different.  Nonetheless, starting my day with a cup of inspiration is how I personally start my day.  I am already feeling inspired for another great day.

Inspiring the Art of Happiness in Others
As most of you know, I love using my art and my unique perspective as an artist as a means to inspire others in the world to live more fulfilled lives too!  So I just wanted to write a friendly reminder to please remember to take time out for yourself today to enjoy life and celebrate who you are.  And remember that you are unique!  Here's something to think about: There is no one like you in the entire world.  So if you remember nothing else from this article here is a recap of three simple steps in attaining: "The Art of Happiness!"

In Three Simple Steps:

1)We all have special gifts and came to this planet for a purpose, so the first step is taking an honest assessment of our interests.  

2)Don't forget to take time out for yourself to do what you enjoy, and;

3)Embrace and "celebrate" your own uniqueness!   

What do you personally stand for?
Even though I'm a crazy artist, one of my goals in life is to inspire the world in my own small way.  Inspiration is who I am and what I stand for.  So I hope this article has been useful and inspirational to you.  Okay, time to sign off.  I need to go buy a large easel because I have a large sketch in my studio that has been collecting dust.  I'm doing a lot of prepatory drawings and studies in preparation for that large work.  I'm treating myself to a large easel that's large enough to hold a work of that scope.  One last thing before I sign off here from The American in Paris Gallery.

Give of Yourself to Others!
As an artist, I came into this planet to inspire!  That's my life's work.  Besides, your kind words also keep me going and also reaffirm that I'm fulfilling my life purpose.  So if you enjoyed reading this essay on "The Art of Happiness" or it has been useful and inspirational in any way, please don't hesitate to let me know.  Even your short notes are always appreciated. To join my mailing list and leave a personal note, just  click here!  

Monday

The Work Behind the Scenes

The Work Behind the Scenes....

People often take the work of artists for granted and think our work is always just a bunch of "fun and games".  It's certainly true that many times creating art is certainly "fun".  However, for me rest assured that creating art is not a game.  Believe me, the work of most artists does not come into the world without much struggle and effort.  Many people even look at my entire life's work and don't ever realize all the work that goes on "behind the scenes" in my life trying to inspire others.  So I thought I'd take the time to write about this topic.

As an artist, I've put my time in and have also been around the block.  Like most people, sure, I've been knocked down a few times, but I always manage to get back up on the horse of being a creative artist because that's who and what I am.  Artists are rare breeds with inherit stamina, courage, and a vision that compel us to pursue the type of work we do. Often we have to work in many art forms, not just drawing and painting to convey our message and our vision.  At times I've had to wear many hats as an artist.  In fact, often I'm having to spend my creative energy as lifelong learner constantly challenging myself to learn new skills or "brush up" on old ones (no pun intended).

The world of art is an ever expanding and fascinating field!  So naturally I am always finding myself having to switch gears.  Often I'm having to drop the paint brush to write, learn new topics such as the art of typography, learn graphic art & design, use the art of film and photography, dive into documentary making, and even find myself literally dancing and performing as an artist in the great "dance of life". Yet, despite all the time, energy, and hard work and life commitment of most artists, many continue to have the misconception that the work of the artist is not considered "work" at all.

Trust me, the work of artists like myself goes far beyond working any 9 to 5 job I've ever had. And I've had my share... In fact, many artists, like myself, have "managed" to stay committed to our work even while working fulltime holding professional 9-5 jobs and following multiple careers.  In my case, for example, not only have I worked in the arts as a teacher, manager, life coach, mentor, and a consultant.  I even left my career as an executive.  But that story is for another day...

Fortunately, I've paid my dues and now have earned the privilege of working as an artist fulltime.  I've also studied and have learned the lessons of many great artists who came before me.  In fact, that's one of the reasons I definitely won't ever let myself be taken advantage of when it comes to my life's work as an artist...  So the next time you see the work of an artist, even someone you may consider a crazy artist like myself, I do hope you also take time to appreciate "the work" that goes on behind the scenes.  Even now, I know I still have so much to learn.  Rather than crying about it, instead I've come to accept that learning can be fun!  Besides, even though my work as an artist seems unachievable at times, learning also keeps me feeling young, motivated, and excited.

Nonetheless, I've decided to share a side of me you don't often see in my work.  I chose this photograph as an example because it shows me working "behind the scenes" setting up on the beach for one of my photoshoots at the early break of day.  It was still dark when my photographer and I drove for over an hour in the dark to make sure we were at the beach by the break of day to capture the early morning light  needed in creating art in hopes of inspiring others with a day of genuine hard work using the medium of art photography.  That's called having "drive" and "commitment" needed in pursuing "a vision".  Contrary to popular belief, most artists have great passion and commitment and actually work very hard and make many sacrifices in their lives as artists day and night beyond any 9-5 job to spend their lives trying to inspire others with their "work".  So the next time you start to judge, criticize, or even admire an artist and their work, I do hope that's also something you can learn to appreciate.  Just something to think about...

Sunday

Little Roman in Graphite


"The Little Roman"
Graphite
I love it when I receive an empty frame as a beautiful gift.  For example, this empty frame gave me an opportunity to use my imagination to do a quick sketch in graphite.  This little Roman was inspired by a beautiful spot that reminded me of ancient Greece and Rome located in a cemetary honoring police officers who gave their lives in the community of one of my homes.  I would always take my dog for walks there and stop to salute them for being so brave and the sacrifice they made as my morning ritual.  It was such a shame that so many of these hero's died so especially young... In a way, I guess I could emotionally relate to them.  Any true artist knows the sacrifice it takes to give our lives without ever being thanked for the contribution we make until after we, too, are gone...  This is not just a self portrait.  Even now as a grown man, the feelings of my inner child filled with so much love and hope for the world never ceases to go away.  At least that's how I often feel inside.  So I thought I would  record my own sentiments in graphite not only to these brave officers and soldiers who protect us but also to all the brave artists through out history, my fellow comrades, who have also sacrificed and have given of their lives to inspire the lives of others.