The creative zone is a wonderful place where new ideas are conceived, advanced techniques are tested, and innovative pieces of art are brought to life. In the creative zone time doesn’t exist. It’s a beautiful realm full of wonder and surprise. It’s a place of magic we all want to visit. So, how do you produce the right environment to get to this artist’s heaven on-demand? Here are some tricks to fast-track you to the zone.
1 Find your sweet spot.
Identify when you feel most productive creatively. Don’t fight it. Not everyone is meant for a 9:00 to 5:00 workday. For me, my most fruitful hours are between 11:00 am and 7:00 pm. And, I like to work even later if I’ve gained momentum that’s getting projects in the kiln. My day starts a lot earlier than 11:00, but I like to work-out and clean a little before I get serious about glass work. Then, I can focus on arty tasks without distractions.
2 Free-play without a critic.
Play with your glass colors without a rigid plan. Allow your spontaneous artistic mind to wander and explore new ways to combine glass colors to make interesting blends. I pull scrap glass out and arrange it on the table in random color schemes. Then I mix them up to get even more unique design palates. This exercise is a process. Once you’ve exhausted the routine combinations, it’s amazing how new fresh ideas reveal themselves.
3 Take a break.
Look outside for inspiration. Exciting original art is the product of artists who actively seek out stimuli to generate new ideas. Take a walk, go to the beach, the mountains, the zoo or the park. The exercise and fresh air nurtures your creative spirit and promotes action.
4 Sketch design ideas on paper.
You don’t have to be good at drawing for this exercise to work. The process of doodling frees your mind and hushes the internal sensor that holds you back. Forge ahead. Be bold. The idea is to let the drawings come naturally. You’ll be pleasantly surprised how much this simple act empowers your artistic style. Try it!
5 Dedicate time to developing your art and your talent.
Commit to branching out and trying new techniques and methods that challenge your skills. In this uncharted territory you’ll find renewed energy that’ll quickly translates into exciting new pieces of art.
Excelling in your craft is the dream of every dedicated artist. The creative zone is where we find and fine tune our own personal style. It’s where we identify with ourselves and that’s what makes you the incredible artist you are.
You have an amazing talent, use it!
Be kind to yourself. Keep trying. Always, push ahead!
No matter where you are in your artistic journey, you’re doing great!
Frit may be tiny, but make no mistake, this little powerhouse can make a huge, positive impact on your glass artwork. The beauty of frit is in its flexibility. I love to push that flexibility every chance I get.
There are always several ways to approach any glass fusing project. But if you can incorporate frit of some sort into that project, you’ll have something unexpected that is unquestionably more engaging. And as self-serving as it is, we all want to dazzle people with our art.
Next time you’re brainstorming how to build your project, consider replacing some or several design elements with frit. Play with different sizes; use mosaic, course, medium, fine and powder. Each size has its own unique visual characteristic that you will love after firing. Work with several shades of the same color such as light amber and medium amber to create a three-dimensional quality. Repeat the same color such as red in both transparent and opal glasses for greater contrast.
Let’s dive in!
1 Go Overboard! Strengthen your design by incorporating a subtle complimentary pattern in the background. When making the Flowering Tree, I cut a leafy tree limb stencil out of stiff paper. I then sifted soft green powders over the stencil to add the delicate woodland setting behind the flowering plant. The addition of the soft foliage unifies the overall project and makes it distinctly more appealing. The great thing about stenciling a design is that each piece you make will be slightly different and therefore everyone has unique beauty.
2 Go Deeper! Consider increasing the attraction of your work by repeating the same pattern on both the base layer and the top layer. Simply sift powders over a stencil on the base layer. Then turn the stencil ¼ turn and repeat the pattern on the second layer. Stack the layers to create a new, more elegant design. This quick little trick is a terrific way to increase visual depth and ramp up the sophistication of your artwork.
3 Lighten Up! Give your design a light source and you’ll have an immediate winner. With frit you can do it in a snap. Select frit in multiple shades of the same color. Use both transparent and opal versions of every color in your palette. Then gradually spread the frit working from light to dark. Blend the colors as you go for an even more engaging flow. This painterly technique rapidly transforms flat, lifeless images into lively three-dimensional masterpieces.
4 Set the Mood! Making a sherbet colored tropical sunset, a magical starry night or mysterious mist cloaked meadow is easy with frit. Think about how such enchanted places make you feel. Think about how they draw you in, tempt you to stay and make you wonder what hidden treasures wait for you just out of sight. Now take that feeling and make it tangible by mixing different colors of frit and you’ll create energetic settings that speaks out loud.
5 Take the Helm! Next time your cut glass design doesn’t fit as accurately as you’d like, do what I do. Throw in a zinger. Fill that nasty crevice or inconvenient hole with frit in a color that contrasts the cut glass around it. No, you’re not fudging a mistake. You’re making something new, adding detail and highlighting the more important characteristics of your design.
Don’t Mutiny! Frit may be small, but its applications are huge. Use it in small or even large doses and as you navigate these new waters, you’ll begin to fathom the many, many artistic possibilities.
Except from my Fusing with Frit Webinar, this Tuesday, June 25, 2019.
Get this festive full size pattern along with a glass and materials list in the Fall 2019 issue of Glass Patterns Quarterly Magazine. Find this pattern and 56 other seasonal favorites in new eBook, Home for the Holidays.
Tropical Fish Tray
Check out my fun tutorial in the Glass Patterns Quarterly, Summer 2019 issue and learn how to make this bubbly dish.
Sculptural fused glass is the creation of three-dimensional forms that rise above a flat plane. Artists create 3-D works by using multiple methods and techniques with complete freedom of materials and process.
Sculptural Fused Glass, 4-Day, Hands-on Workshop, October 15-18, 2019
You’re invited to join me for this intense workshop held in my private studio in Wesley Chapel, Florida. Class size is limited to 4.
NEW Class Update and Special Offer. Register now and for the first time EVER, all class materials are included! PLUS, you’ll get a FREE Fused Art Design Video DVD. AND, a professional photo shoot of your completed sculptural masterpieces.
In this comprehensive class you’ll learn how to design, build and creatively display multiple stunning pieces of art that reflect your personal style.
You’ll push the boundaries glass imposes. You’ll use innovative approaches to design and combine multiple advanced techniques to construct original sculptural art.You’ll enjoy: the one-on-one instruction, making large scale projects, the well-equipped classroom, and the intimate class size.
Its hard-core fusing in a nurturing, relaxed environment. You’ll love the concentrated, in-depth study and creative momentum you’ll gain while actively producing nonstop, for four consecutive days. You’ll also learn how to design and build custom art glass displays that enhance your original work.
Due to popular demand, I’m now extending the hands-on curriculum to include a professional photo shoot of your completed sculptures.
You’ll leave class with several completed sculptures, a working knowledge of kiln operation and custom project-specific firing guides. You’ll have the design confidence and hands-on experience to rise above and take your work to the next level.
We all have to start somewhere. Knowledge, skills and success are hard earned by doing. When it comes to my creative writing I still feel like a beginner. I keep at it though, relentlessly trying and pursing the confidence and comfort I enjoy when I’m working with glass.
I’m not new to the writing scene. I’ve been publishing a glass related newsletter since 1986 and writing how-to articles for magazines since 1999. I love to share artsy news and describe new glass handling techniques. And so, writing about art comes easily to me.
There’s a very clear intent when I write non-fiction about art. I strive to educate, inspire and motivate artists to grow and develop their talent. Through my trial and error, I hope to give them confidence to try new things.
When it comes to fiction, my intent is entertainment. A great writer hooks you at the beginning of the story. Then they take you by the neck on a wild ride through an imaginary world that exists only in their head. It’s an amazing gift I hope to cultivate and eventually thrill readers with.
You have to risk it all and put yourself out there.
In my experience, the best way to become proficient at something new, is to study the craft and then practice what you’ve learned. Another way to grow artistically is to put yourself and your work out there for people to see and experience your unique spin on your invented reality.
It’s not easy to expose myself and share how I struggle to understand and fine tune my fiction writing process. But if I just keep spinning my wheels here in the sand pit, and sit on everything I write until it’s perfect, I’ll never get any traction.
I started a writing journal to free my cluttered mind of all the noise that slowed down my creativity. I write in my journal without a filter or editor. This is where I’m honest with myself. It’s not all rainbows, butterflies and lollypops, but I hope you find my journey of discovery interesting and maybe even enlightening. Perhaps you’ve had similar experiences honing your craft. Maybe you’ll recognize some of my triumphs mirror your own. Perhaps you can relate to the crippling effects I struggled to overcome by not surrendering to my fears. If nothing else, you’ll see that I have gained momentum and some small measure of confidence that I hope inspires you to keep going and face your challenges.
My Writing Journal
How to Write a Book in a Month
NaNoWriMo fans unite!
No, I’m not speaking some bizarre foreign language or writing in tongues. National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo, is a worldwide writing event that takes place every November. During the thirty days of the month, participants are challenged to write 50,000 words of fiction, an average of 1,667 words per day. This annual self-guided, self-inspired writing competition has no winners and no prizes. The reward is writing the first draft of a book in one month.
The very first NaNoWriMo took place in July 1999, in the San Francisco Bay Area. That first year there were 21 writers. Over the years, the number of participants steadily increased. In 2017, 402,142 participants, including 95,912 students and educators participated in the event. Hundreds of NaNoWriMo novels have been traditionally published. They include Sara Gruen’s Water for Elephants, Erin Morgenstern’s The Night Circus, Hugh Howey’s Wool, Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl, Jason Hough’s The Darwin Elevator, and Marissa Meyer’s Cinder.
This sounds crazy, right? I’ve been working on a few books for years. Years! Something always gets in my way. Mostly it’s me. I tried participating in NaNoWriMo last year and mildly thought about doing it the year before, but I failed. I never got off the ground.
What’s different this year? It’s my birthday month and I listened to Scorpio’s reading on YouTube. The medium said that Scorpio’s always take care of everyone else. And this month, we should be selfish and take care of ourselves. I took that to mean I should commit to writing my book. It’s something I’ve wanted to do for so long, but life got in the way.
This year I didn’t tell anyone I was going to try again. And this time I’m going to follow my own rules. Which are to work on my current, in progress novel and to write words on this book every day. I was afraid I’d screw up again, so I kept it a secret.
On day 1 I learned to use my time wisely. I didn’t have the luxury to wait for inspiration or ideas. But instead, went to where the ideas were and wrote those scenes no matter where that content might fall in the book. I wrote 500 plus words. It wasn’t 1,700 but it was forward progress and more words than I had the day before.
On day 2 I learned to ignore my inner critic and just lay down words without prejudice. I let the ideas flow and ran with wild abandonment. It was a real challenge to relax my rigid need for perfection and let the crappy sentences fly. I wrote another 500 plus words.
On day 3 I learned to keep all of my words even if the story would be tighter and possibly stronger with less words. I was, in affect padding my word count. For years, I’ve read advice from pros who frequently recommend making your work succinct. A well-known phrase is, kill all your darlings. But that advise doesn’t apply this month. I’m keeping all of my darlings.
This morning I stayed in bed till 3:00pm and wrote 1,250 words! Of course, I can’t do that all month.
After three successful days I told my family about my writing goal for November. They understand the importance of this to me and are supporting my efforts by respecting my writing time.
On day 4 I didn’t want to write. I’d cleaned the house, did laundry and other routine maintenance around the house. By 5:00pm I didn’t want to tax my brain. Watching a mindless TV show appealed to me, and I had no new ideas for the next chapter. But I forced my self to open the document and just write anything. Primarily because I didn’t want to face myself the next morning without an increased wordcount. I can be brutally hard on myself. Plus, if I missed one day, would it be easier to skip a second or a third day. So, I wrote.
I learned that I can pump out 500 plus words of slop without a formal plan. Amazing! And the slop wasn’t really all that bad. There were some terrific gems mixed in with the rubble.
More to come.
I hope you enjoyed this behind closed doors look into the writing life.
I’m a winner! And I’m super excited to finally share my exciting news with you. For the past 10 years the Florida Writers Association, (FWA) has hosted a writing competition open to its members. Every year there’s a new thoughtful prompt, to give the participating writers inspiration. This year’s prompt was, where does your muse live? This year, entries could be original, recent works of fiction, non-fiction or poetry.
Writing competitions always stir a feeling of excitement in me. I imagine being the winning entry and having people I don’t know reading my extremely clever prose and being moved to think about ordinary things in new ways. Or maybe my work simply entertains and it takes them on a brief journey to an enchanted place. That’s okay too.
At the beginning of this year I set a goal for myself to submit creative writing to competitions, magazines or online publications, at least once a month. Well, I didn’t meet my goal. But I did submit to two places. (I’m not including the tutorials I had published in glass related publications because they’re not new markets.)
I received a rejection for a short, psychological thriller I wrote. My usual topics of choice are educational and inspiring. This was the first time I tried to write something dark and twisted. Truth is, it was hard. But it was also fun to explore and unravel the shady side of morally shattered characters.
It’s disappointing to admit to not having submitted as many stories as I would have liked this year. But then I thought, it’s two more than I submitted the previous year. And although I didn’t send work out, I did produce a lot of creative writing this year. My many stories are in different states of completion. But through the constant exercise of writing, I’m gaining proficiency and confidence. And best of all, I truly like the energy in each one of my stories.
The more I thought about it, I compared my creative writing to my walking. About 15 years ago I decided to walk for exercise. It’s a great workout you can do at every age your entire life, and wherever you are. Plus, I love being outside enjoying nature, so it’s a win, win. I call myself a walker. I make an effort to walk five times or more a week. There are times when I don’t make that number. Sometimes, I have long stretches of inactivity. But in my mind, I’m committed and will get back to walking when I can. That’s how I feel about writing. I’m a writer. I write. Though I may not have achieved my set goal, I’m committed, and I’ll keep trying to do better.
I found the FWA contest prompt intriguing. As an artist and writer, I wondered, where does my muse live? For a few months I played around with different ways to approach the topic. I don’t know anything about poetry, but for some unknown reason it seemed a logical way to write about my muse. I wrote a poem. It took several awkward forms before being completed. Several supportive people read my work in progress. Their well appreciated and valuable input helped make it better, and more colorful. Eventually, I had a page full of words that spoke honestly of my creative essence. I submitted my poem and am happy to announce that it was selected for this year’s FWA anthology. It’s the second time I’ve had this thrill as another one of my short stories is in the fourth FWA collection titled, My Wheels. The new book, Where Does Your Muse Live, will be released at the end of this month.
I submitted to two new creative writing venues so far this year. Both entries were written in genres I had no experience in, and I had no reason to expect them to be accepted. One was rejected but with editing, it has potential for publication elsewhere. My second entry was accepted and will be published alongside the work of other talented writers. It’s a small step toward my big dream. It’s an honor to be included in the FWA collection. But the biggest thrill is being validated. My efforts are producing work that other writers and readers appreciate. In the end, I’m batting 50%. That’s not too bad for a rookie.
Small steps forward are better than standing still. Chase your dreams. Get moving!