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6527212 August 18, 2010

Deal With It: Randy Thurman

"There is only one way I have found to deal with it - WORK!" 

This morning I woke up wondering why the hell I keep writing this blog. While the traffic is good, it needs to be better. While I seem to have a lot of regular readers, they don't often leave comments.

I guess I do it mostly for myself. In the past, I've written about how blogs seem a bit self centered. Maybe that's my issue. 

My guest today, artist Randy Thurman, says that working helps him deal with folks not understanding his creative drive. Working helps people like Randy and I deal with a lot. I suppose that's why writing this blog is good for me whether or not anyone actually  reads it.

Maybe rather than selfishness, Aberration Nation is driven by self preservation, like eating a healthy breakfast, going to an AA meeting, or taking medicine.

So what if most people don't understand? They don't have my disease.

Although I'm currently working on my fourth novel and also painting, the blog helps me feel connected. It also offers me a way to express myself through a nonfiction outlet. It often reminds me of all the years I kept a journal. I guess I did all that work that for the same reason. No matter what, writing helps me think. It helps me decide and define how I feel and who I am.  The interviews teach me a tremendous amount, and give me prompts.

I need to write to occupy my mind to a certain degree. I need characters and places and situations to mentally weed and wade through because doing so focuses an overactive imagination and a highly obsessive element that has gotten me into trouble more than once. No matter what ails me, working is the medicine I need.  Whether it's writing or painting, creating and expressing myself in these ways gives me both the soothing feeling and the rush I crave.

I may never know what's wrong with me--why I need these sort of meds. I don't know why I sit here writing words that very few folks care to read. I don't know why I have all these paintings stuffed in my house, or why I keep writing novel and after novel that may never be published.

It just helps me deal with it, whatever it may be. If you have anything to say about it, leave a comment.

What's your story? How long did it take to establish yourself as an artist? Was the journey on a straight or twisted path? Are you surprised by your success?

My story really begins in March 2006 when I had a health crisis that changed the direction of my life. Instead of focusing on the restrictions of my health, I immersed myself in painting and music, which had always been integral parts of who I am.

Even before the illness, my wife had urged me to show my work, but I had always declined. Reluctantly I said "OK" and she sent some of my work to Bob Hogge and Marina Hadley at Monkdogz. Then in January 2007 I had my first exhibition at their gallery in Chelsea New York. That's how it started.

With regard to your current creative focus, was there an "ah-ha" moment you can tell us about?

A succession of "ah-ha" moments would better describe how my creative process has evolved to where I am now. For me the "ah-ha" moments are just acknowledgments of what I already subconsciously know.

For you, is art more about creation or expression? It could be both, but does one dominate with regard to your need/urge/desire to be an artist and why?

If it is possible to separate creation and expression, different artists might consider one more important than the other, but for me they are interdependent and of equal value. To me, expression is the fulfillment of the creation.

Many artist focus on one particular subject or style. How important is this for career development? Have you ever grown tired of painting the same types of things, and if so, can you tell us about it?

I have explored different styles in both my painting and musical compositions. Those experiences led me to my current focus. Success in following one or more styles really depends on the individual artist. For me, painting and music have always provided inspiration for each other. That has always been a natural part of my creative process. Professionally, several exhibitions of my work have also included my musical compositions. Each has opened opportunities for the other. For me it works.

Do you believe some of the various attributes related to being highly creative have caused you aberrations in life, helped you deal with life's aberrations, or both?

There are many factors that condition our ability to interact with or connect with other people. Being highly creative can certainly be one of those factors. At times it caused feelings of separation and isolation for me. Then through exhibiting my work I was able to make connections with other highly creative people who have experienced some of the same aberrations.

During difficult or challenging times in your life, does painting sooth or inspire you? Is it therapeutic in any way?

The actual physical part of painting has never been soothing or calming for me. The process is very intense and focused. It's more like an adrenaline rush.

Have you ever had to deal with people in your life failing to understand your creative personality, interests, or drive? If so, can you tell us about it and how you've dealt with it?

I think it is a situation that all truly gifted people experience. You have to have confidence in your work and your ability in order to push through it. There is only one way I have found to deal with it - WORK!

Have you developed a specific creative process that enables you to meet your artistic goals? If so, can you tell us about it. Where do most of your ideas come from?

If I have a creative process it is visualization first, then finding a way to make that vision tangible. Resourcefulness is key to using whatever means necessary for achieving that goal. For me it varies and is constantly evolving. I basically follow my intuition.

What do you believe places an artist apart from his or her peers? So many are highly talented, but what makes one stand out as truly gifted?

All highly talented artists possess a strong intuitive sense of their surroundings. What makes an artist stand out as truly gifted is having the courage to follow that intuition and the determination to see it through. They heed the call.

What is your primary motto or mantra in life? Why is this important to you?

I don't really have a specific motto or mantra. The qualities I value are having confidence in your ability, accuracy in your intent, and the tenacity to follow through.

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6527212 March 31, 2010

Guts and Art: Sebastien Aurillon

"... at the end of the day you just have to listen to your guts ..."

Literary critic and writer, Cyril Connolly said, "Better to write for yourself and have no public, than to write for the public and have no self." Although I agree with his statement 100%, I often struggle with the concept. I don't want to write or paint strictly for the public but I want the public to care about what I write and paint.

Okay, I admit that I want it all to be awesome. I want my work to be some of the best around! I want to wake up in that city that doesn't sleep to find I'm king of the hill, top of the heap ... lalalala

The issue is that while everyone's so different and interesting, there exists an average. It's statistics; I'm not knocking anyone. There is an average Joe, an average reader, an average art lover, etc. It often seems like to get to the top of the heap, creative folks must emerge as the best at pleasing the mighty average.


Does that mean the creative gal who places in the average zone of the bell curve, just short of the spectacular tail, has the best possible chance of rising above the crowd, and therefore bouncing over to the highly successful group? Are you following?

And is that the way it should be?

Creative folks can determine what's hot and attempt to do that, or we can do something that gives hot a whole new meaning. I create what I want and need to because that's all I know how to do. I can only be myself; I'm not good enough to be all the other people too. Honestly, it gets lonely sometimes feeling that the things I'm pouring my time and heart into could ultimately be meaningless crap, or that it just may be too different for the average to embrace ... not commercial enough for some reason. On those days I tell myself "it's definitely not crap" because after all, I created it for myself and that's all that counts, right?

But wait!

If I truly did it all for myself wouldn't I simply file my finished manuscripts in a drawer instead of sending them to my agent? Maybe I'd display them in nice glass boxes that sit on pedestals in my formal living room.

(Hey, there's an idea for a kooky, thought-provoking piece of art--a lonely manuscript representing years of work encased in glass. Out of reach, is it still art?)

Wouldn't I lovingly hang my paintings around the house and forget about New York? Wouldn't I stop feeling like I want to hurl when I read the bestseller list each week, especially when a novel I just struggled to read (due to its ordinary, meaningless content) is at the top of the list?

My guest today, artist and art consultant Sebastien Aurillon, brings up the the important notion of how we each define success. It's not always as simple at 'ole Cyril makes it sound. I've adjusted my definition of success over the last twenty years but a few visions have remained ... bordering on fantasy, of course.
  • My novels are at the front of Borders and Barnes & Noble.
  • There are sparkling New York Times book reviews, and my novels are absolutely on that bestseller list.
  • My art hangs in galleries in New York, Paris, Basel, etc. People find it extremely interesting, filled with story and emotion. The write up in Gallery & Studio is spectacular.
  • One lonely teenage girl reads my novel, Boundaries, and realizes that her life is worth much more than she previously thought.
  • A movie wins the Oscar for best adaptation from an original source (my novel). The producer holds his gold in the air and says, "And last but not least, I want to thank Penelope Przekop for writing such a honest and moving story." Tears, forged through years of dedication, roll down my face.
  • There exists a Wiki page, a legacy, a body of creative work that ultimately relays something meaningful to the world.
All this simply because those who know believe it's just that good. Have I ever once imagined millions of dollars in my bank account (fortune), or people begging for my autograph (fame)? No.

My overarching dream has been to create something brutally honest, something people recognize themselves in and, in doing so, they see me. I become real. Perhaps this need to yank out what's inside me and make it tangible stems from my childhood. I grew up being overlooked in an odd way, groping through the shadows of a larger than life mother. There were no mirrors in that darkness. And besides that, I absolutely LOVE books, stories, pictures, paintings, color, interesting lines, etc.

Using those tools, I want to create a reflection for others so that they can become mine. My favorite books are The Scarlett Letter and The Dying Animal, and I love art that probably wouldn't look right over the sofa. I'm not here to entertain the largest chunk of the bell curve. I never was. Besides, we've got James Patterson for that.

Based on his nagging definition of success, Sebastien stepped away from the corporate gravy train to pursue his creative interests. He knew it was a gamble in terms of potential achievement. But ultimately, we're each alone with those definitions swimming in our heads, knowing we only have so much time. Perhaps in the end, feeling fulfilled in a more authentic way, and knowing you had the nerve to follow your guts makes the gamble worthwhile. That seems to be the case for Sebastien these days.

Interesting that Cyril Connolly's most well-known book, Enemies of Promise, combined literary criticism with an autobiographical exploration of why he failed to become the successful author of fiction that he had aspired to be in his youth.

Needless to say, he still got a Wiki page.

What's your story (in a nutshell)? How did you end up where you are today? Are you surprised by where you are, or did you always see it coming?

I suddenly left the corporate world in 2002 after working for years as an export manager for high-end Parisian companies--to just paint. Three years later, I was having my first solo show in Paris. Two weeks after that, I was meeting Bob Hogge and Marina Hadley at the Monkdogz Urban Art Gallery in Chelsea. They gave me my first show in New York and hired me as an art consultant a few months later.

This being said, I really don't feel I've gotten anywhere yet. There's still a long way to go, but I've always had a deep feeling that my adventure was going to be unusual.

With regard to your current focus in life, was there an "ah-ha" moment you can tell us about?

Probably right before I left the corporate life. One night during dinner my best friend asked me, "Are you going to wait to be 50 before you make that jump?”

I quit my job the week after.

What are your thoughts on the stereotypes that creative people sometimes fall into?

Some of the most common fantasies are chasing up anything that's not directly linked to the creative process like fame or immediate gratification ... or when artists think it's enough to keep your work in your studio, whereas you really have to put it out there in the world.

Do you believe being creative has caused you aberrations in life, helped you deal with life's aberrations, or both?

It definitely helped me to deal with some of life's craziness because being creative forces you to put things into different perspectives--a bit like a distorted vision of reality's insanity. On the other hand, I can't see how being creative would cause aberrations in life. On the contrary, it just makes you look at it through different glasses.

Have you had to deal with people in your life failing to understand your creative personality or drive? If so, can you tell us about it and how you've dealt with it?

I found very little support when I transitioned from the corporate life to a creative one; most people thought I was going nuts. My father told me I was going to become a bum ... how much confidence did he have in me?

We act like mirrors to others, and I soon realized that my choice of a completely different lifestyle was awaking people's worse fears and insecurities.

How are you going to live?
What about your retirement plan?

But at the end of the day you just have to listen to your guts and surround yourself with positive people. I stopped listening a long time ago to nonconstructive critics, whether coming from those close by or from art dealers.

So far, the majority of those I've interviewed about creativity say that the internal question of, "Am I truly creative or do I just think I am?" has never crossed their mind. Is this true for you? Am I the only one who has, at times, wondered if I'm just kidding myself?

Well, I don’t know if you're the only one, but that question has definitely never ever crossed my mind. For me it would be like asking myself, “Am I alive or do I just think I am?”

I can question the quality, the pertinence, the technique of a creative work I have completed but not if it is, in its essence, a creative work.

Unfortunately, many creative people never achieve the success they dream about. Which of your dreams have come to pass and what do you dream about now?

First of all success has a different meaning to us all. It is fame? Is it financial? Being recognized by your peers? Because I have a rich spiritual life, my own beliefs are that success will come if it’s meant to be, and also most likely if you let go of the idea itself.

Be tenacious but be aware of the intentions you put behind it. I don’t believe you can be successful if you’re not doing it for reasons that are right for you.

I am personally ready to see all my dreams come true.

I often wonder about the similarities and differences creative people have in terms of thought processes. Is there one method or way that you get most of your ideas, and if so, can you describe that? If not, can you tell us a little bit about how your mind works?

I guess all artists get asked that question.

My first impulse has always been to say that I have no idea, that it is such a subconscious process that I have no control over it. However, I've revised that answer since trying to put more conscious meaning into my art, give it more depth, and communicate with subjects that are more intimate to me.

What are the top three characteristics highly creative people need to be successful, in your opinion?

Talent, a fair amount of neurosis, and tenacity.

What is your primary motto or mantra in life?

Create art that will make people feel good and believe that anything is possible.

Learn more about Sebastien and his unique work on his site.

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6527212 March 01, 2010

Alone: Jean Marc Calvet

"It's a lovely snake biting its own tail."

American novelist and painter Henry Miller said, "An artist is always alone--if he is an artist. No, what the artist needs is loneliness."

Growing up in way-down-there Louisiana, my momma always reminded me that God knew every hair on my head before I was born. My daddy said I was smart enough to accomplish anything I dreamed about as long as I worked hard and didn't give up.

These two messages prevailed through many lonely days and dark nights. I couldn't stop wondering why God put me here. Why did I get that golden ticket? And if He knew all about me before I got here, why did He let such disturbing things happen? Why did He allow me to feel overburdened, neglected and alone for most of my childhood? On top of it all, as I grew older, I wondered what I was supposed to do with all that. Where would I file it and how would I use it?

Being alone, whether as a child or an adult, often causes folks to search within themselves for understanding. Of course, there is miserable alone, and there is wonderful alone. I've gone through periods when all I wanted was to be alone. At other times, I've desperately craved company to the point of breaking into bedroom windows late at night.

My guest today, Jean Marc Calvet, says that being alone is critical for individuals who wish or need to create. He's a thinker, too, but once he knew why he was put here, he never looked back.

After reading his interview, I'm trying to figure out what the heck's wrong with me. I wish I could stop l
ooking back, rethinking, retooling, re-imagining, etc. I've also noticed that many of those whom I've interviewed say they never waste time wondering if they're truly talented. I get an "F" for that one, too.

I'm not one to waste time. In fact, I get a hell of a lot done. Maybe I think too much while I'm doing. In college I was the student who "over-thought" multiple ch
oice questions. No one loved essay questions more than I did. Just leave me alone in my own head, and I can spit out anything and make it sound fairly interesting.

Maybe having too many external choices/offerings is one of the reasons artists need alone time. Too much constant stimulation from outside sources mucks it up. It either causes confusion or shuts down emotions by providing too many easy ways out, a thousand masks to wear in order to avoid the thing you really are, the thing you truly feel. Tangled in confusion or standing behind masks chips away at creative authenticity.

Intense loneliness at key times in my life and the intense need to be alone have allowed me to evolve into the person I am today. And who knows, she may actually be talented or she may suck. I still believe that whomever put me here did so for a reason. Perhaps it's simple as with George in It's a Wonderful Life, or perhaps it's more spectacular. Regardless, like Jean Marc, I'm determined to see it unfold.

No turning back. No giving up.

I've only fully given up once in my life; it was only after recovering from those loneliest moments and building a life for myself that I knew how much I had to lose. So bring on the alone, lonely times. As Jean Marc expresses, they are a powerful fuel source for what ails us and what drives us ... "a lovely snake biting its own tail."

I often wonder if most highly creative people are born knowing what they want to do. Have you always wanted to be an artist or was it a specific creative interest that evolved over time?

I spent a large part of my life wondering why I was born, why I was here! When I turned 36 everything started. I was painting on the walls, the ground, the ceiling with all sorts of things such as paint, tomato sauce, chocolate, mud, etc. I didn't think I was making art. For me it was a way to keep my sanity and it still is today. The main difference between yesterday and today is that today I know why I was born--and that changed many things!

J' ai passe une grande partie de ma vie sans savoir pourquoi j' etais nee , pourquoi j' etais la !!.......C' est a l'age de 36 ans que tout a commence .........peignant sur les murs , sol, plafond avec toute sorte de choses....peintures, sauce tomate , chocolat, boue ect ect Je ne pensais vraiment pas faire de l' art , pour moi c' etait juste un moyen pour ne pas devenir completement fou et d' ailleurs encore aujourd' hui cela le reste . La grande difference entre hier et aujoud' hui c' est que aujourd' hui je sais pourquoi je suis nee........et ca change beaucoup de choses!

Do you have other creative interests, and if so, what are they?

No, I don't have enough time. I need more perspective, more experience, and especially to open new doors.

Non je n' ai pas assez de temps ...... j' ai besoin de plus de recul , de plus d' experience et surtout d' ouvrir de nouvelles portes .

There is a stereotype that creative people are "different," which can be a positive or a negative at times. What are your thoughts on this?

I believe we are all born with two sides, two faces-- then it's up to us to change them. I cultivate my dark side, it enables me to feel the positive aspect and appreciate life. I like to go to the dark corners of my soul, opening forgotten doors in the collective conscience. I simply learn to turn a negative into a positive, the destructive into the constructive and to get a fuel, an energy out of it that will allow me to paint and create.

Je crois que naissons tous avec les 2 faces , les 2 visages .......apres libre a nous d' en changer. Je cultive mon cote negatif , il me permet de ressentir le cote positif......et d' aprecier la vie .J' aime allez dans les recoins sombres de mon ame......ouvrir des portes oubliees dans la consience collective.......j' apprend tout simplement a transformer le negatif en positif...le destructif en constructif..et d' en tirer un carburant , une energie qui me permet de peindre , creer ....vivre.

Do you believe being creative has caused you aberrations in life, helped you deal with life's aberrations, or both?

My aberrations have led me to creativity which finally allowed me to live with them (my aberrations). It's a lovely snake biting its own tail.

Mes aberrations m' ont conduits a la creativite qui ma enfin permis de pouvoir vivre avec elles (mes aberrations ).............c' est un jolie serpent qui se mord la queue..........

Have you had to deal with people in your life failing to understand your creative drive? If so, can you tell us about it and how you've dealt with it?

Creativity can turn into a bulimic monster devouring everything that surrounds you--family, friends, etc. Of course people struggle to understand that but over time, they are reassured as we are, too.

La creativitee peu se transformer en monstre boulimique , devorant tout ce que vous avez autour de vous famille , amis ...ect ect Forcement les gens on du mal a comprendre.............qu'ils se rassure nous aussi .

I often wonder, "Am I truly creative or do I just think I am?" Have you ever wondered about this? In a world filled with creative people and people who think they're creative, how have you been able to distinguish yourself and your talent, despite any doubts along the way?

I don't have time to think at any of that. It's a loss of energy, and I let others answer that question. For me, it's just intellectual masturbation.

Je n' ai pas le temps de penser a tout ca ..perte d' energie ..je laisse le soin aux autres de repondre .Pour moi ce n' est ni plus ni moins que de la masturbation intelectuelle..........

Unfortunately, many creative people never achieve the success they dream about. How did (or do) you cope with disappointments? What motivated you to keep going, to not give up?

Simply because I have no choice. Creativity is like a faucet that allows me to get rid of the overflow of emotions exactly like the water. Without that faucet I implode. Of course we are often frustrated and disappointed. Those feelings do not bother me. On the contrary, I catch them and use them again as fuel.

Tout simplement parceque je n' ai pas le choix .............la creativitee est comme un robinet qui me permet d`evacuer le trop plei d' emotions exactement comme de l' eau .....sans se robinet j' implose....... Forcement on est souvent frustee , deceptione......ces sentiments la ne me gene pas.au contraire je les attrape et m' en sert de nouveau comme carburant...............

I often wonder about the similarities and differences creative people have in terms of though processes. How would you describe your creative process? How does your mind work?

It's an organized chaos. I'm not looking for the objective ... too far. I go step by step, opening doors that I had always ignored inside of me, or by using doors that others opened for me. The white canvas in front of me is a lot less scary than the fear of a black hole--anti-creativity.

C' est un Kaos organise , je ne cherche pas l' objectif...trop loin , j' y vais pas a pas............ouvrant des portes que j' avait toujours ignore a l' interieur de moi ou me servant de porte que d' autres on ouverte pour nous .La toile blanche face a moi est bien moins terrifiante que la peur du trou noir .......de l' anti -creativitee .

What are the top three characteristics of a highly creative person, in your opinion?

alone, alone, alone

Seul, seul , seul

Many creative people have tons of ideas but never follow through. I'm not sure if it's because they lack drive, organization, or focus. What are your thoughts on this phenomenon?

I think that the subconscious itself sorts things out and puts aside anything that could slow the real creation process--silly ideas, fake intelligence crisis. If the idea is a good one, it will come back at the right time.

Je crois que l' inconscient fait lui meme le menage et met de cote tout se qui pourrait ralentir la vrai creation ......les idees farfelues , les fausses crises d' intelligences ..........si l' idee est bonne .....elle reviendra au bon moment.

To view an insightful preliminary interview from writer/director Dominic Allan's upcoming documentary on Jean Marc, go here.


Special thanks to artist Sebastien Aurillon for his French to English interpretation of Jean Marc's comments. Watch for Sebastien's upcoming interview here on Aberration Nation.

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6527212 February 13, 2010

One CD and a Million Colors: Kathy Ostman-Magnusen

"The dark side embraced can bring a million new colors." You slip to the dark side, Across that line. Makes me feel crazy, Makes me feel so mean.
John Cafferty & The Beaver Brown Band
I've crossed that line a few times. Those who have seen me there will agree that it wasn't a pretty sight. Or so we all thought. My guest today, artist Kathy Ostman-Magnusen, suggests that it may be there that we find a million new colors. This is my philosophy as well. Sure, we're not waiting for the dark side bus with excited sweaty palms and thumping hearts but somehow we occasionally find ourselves riding it. In my case, I'm usually sitting on the bus alone trying to figure out if I should wait for the next stop or smash my way through the emergency exit. And sometimes I do look for the bus. I watch for it as if it might take me somewhere better even when I know from experience that it only moves in never ending circles. Over time I've learned that there is value in riding the bus to nowhere. For me, the value is movement. I've decided that it doesn't matter where I am as long as I keep moving. At times when I feel stuck, when I feel like my feet are buried in mud and my heart has gone sluggish, I need that bus to remind me who I am. It always seems to dump me right back where it picked me up but when I emerge everything looks different; sometimes it even looks new. Maybe those are the colors Kathy talks about. As a child, Kathy spent hours and days riding in the backseat of her parents car. She watched the life outside whiz past as she wondered where she might land next. Not knowing where you'll end up can be scary. I often plan and project, write lists and goals, and then constantly adjust it all, always trying to see where I'll be, how far I'll get. As a freshman in college, I mapped out on paper every class I would take over the next four years ... and then I did it again and again and again. It was like a bizarre obsession that gave me pleasure. People have told me to slow down, don't be so obsessed, figure it out as you go, etc., but it's akin to Kathy's desire to play only one CD over and over for an entire year, or to play a CD and a DVD at the same time. Even if it seems chaotic to some, it works for us. It moves us. That's the beauty of fine-tuned individuality. But sometimes when we embrace it, all the here's-how-you're-suppose-to-do-its in life put us on their radar. Kathy doesn't seem to care these days. I'm working on it. Interestingly, a Facebook friend of mine, Douglas Morton, recently wrote (paraphrased), "Reality, as I understand it, is an agreement. This action of agreement solidifies the picture of the world around us, making it easier to understand (more secure) but also thicker and more resistant. Therefore, there is a resistance to going against the perceived reality, like the increased resistance encountered when moving through water ... or soup. The resistance created by the thickening makes everything very slow (change takes time). "I could move quickly despite the resistance but to do so creates ripples, which may highly influence others who simply float through the soup. It would get a lot of attention (and does) whenever I unintentionally move outside the agreement and just do my own thing. This is where I move into very uncertain territory--beyond creating ripples, it appears that it may be possible that someone could step outside the agreement in a way that becomes a catalyst for drastic change. If this happens, it may create something more akin to a shock wave thus having an effect on the soup itself. (Think of people or events who changed the world--overnight.) Moving so quickly could have painful effect on the people near this movement. "The conundrum is two-fold: Does the possibility of hurting those nearby with an act of radical side stepping the agreement or the fact that the agreement is self healing (and therefore acts to resist or minimize change) negate the value of the action? Is there a point in doing so?" So what the hell does this have to do with Kathy, buses, and the dark side? Well, I like Douglas' metaphor for reality. I like the soup thing. I wonder if my tendency to jump on the bus (whether through depression or secretly acting out) has been to avoid messing up the soup. Has the bus cocooned me away from the others just floating through? Maybe we all need a mechanism that enables us to experience our dark side and find the colors we need. I was raised in an environment that screamed, "Don't you dare cross that line!" I was told what to say and how to say it. What to think and how to think it. My dark side may be much brighter than yours. Who knows? It's all relative. As creative spirits and as human beings, I think we should experience all that life has to offer. I'm not sure how we can do that without sometimes making waves. History has shown us that upsetting the soup can be beautiful. I admire Kathy for what seems a lifelong desire to discover who she is, and experience, appreciate, and express that. If I'd learned the value of that quest at a younger age, I may have saved myself a few rides on the ole' bus. But now I'm surrounded by a million colors. I have no regrets. I often wonder if most highly creative people are born knowing what they want to do. Have you always wanted to be an artist, or was it a specific creative interest that evolved over time? When I was a little girl (from age 2-6 years old), my parents traveled the countryside. They were adventurous people who looked for prospects not found in Minnesota or North Dakota. Maybe their daring was because of the Viking in their Scandinavian heritage. They longed for a sophistication not found in those states back then. They just got in their car, with me in the backseat, and drove. Sometimes they stopped long enough for my dad to do some jobs, go to school, or whatever seemed to be their whim. I sat in the backseat and did what little there was to do. I looked out the window as the world flew by and drew pictures. My parents remind me of the Fitzgerald's, F. Scott and Zelda, without any parties. Much like Zelda, my mother had a propensity towards that creative edge that sometimes causes havoc with the mind. With that said, if you have ever read anything about the Fitzgerald's, like them, my parents relationship has always been volatile, yet blended with quick wit. Intelligent people discuss "ideas," and with my parents many ideas became quite confrontational. Yet I do indeed love that history of them. It's where I first decided that conversation must be contemplated, actively reviewed, and absorbed with prudence by its consumers. I remember them well as ideas flew with heated words as I drew and drew, and imagined myself inside those pictures. I think it was there that I was gifted with the spirit of creativity and the need to form a soul out of my own missing words--to coax them into another view. My feeling about creativity is that everyone is creative--they just apply it in different ways. For some it's merely how they set their dinner table or line up their day. Others choose to become more involved with their inner being and convey what stirs inside (motivated by a mood that often feels a certain anticipation for something new to come into existence.) I always say that "talent is desire and the rest is practice." I'm sure that I was born with a "desire" to convey my heartstrings without words and thus ... all my drawing. Creativity is robbed from children though, and so there must be something else in some individuals that causes them to feed off of the energy that flows through artistic rhythms. I tend to come alive when I create. I can't say that it's always a positive experience though. Sometimes times it's torment and I cannot decide if I love it or hate it. I'm trapped in the bubble of having no where else to turn because art is my soul and who I am. No matter where I run when I'm frustrated by my latest creative project, I'm acutely aware that I've been stung by that spell. Do you have other creative interests, and if so, what are they? I write poems, stories, songs, and ideas. I find that the more I write about my art, the better I understand what it is about--where I'm going with it and who I am within its nebulous parameters. Writing causes a floodgate into creativity itself it seems because the more I write, the more visible the crumbs on the trail towards new ideas become. For 20 years, I owned and operated a pottery studio with 6-8 contracted workers. We specialized in the souvenir market designing products specific to wherever they were going (Disney World, JC Penney, Busch Gardens, most National Parks, and over a thousand mom and pop stores). It was there that I learned discipline towards the arts. While production pottery is a "craft," the day to day responsibility of shipping wares out within a tight time frame set a pace that is still useful. I've done design work, prep work as well as the actual sandblasting for a company in Kauai for a couple years. I spent a good deal of time doing silk painting and still think of ways of implementing it into other things. Glass etching is the same in many ways when doing design work. I worked for an Italian sculptor as a conceptual drawer, creating what was in "his head" for a complex to be build Baja. Drawing in Italian Baroque was completely outside my ability as it was very architectural and out of my comfort zone. Did you know that drawings can be drawn completely with numbers and math? I never did and never reconciled to that part of his conception either, much to my very expressive Italian sculptors chagrin. I have carried on with some elements that I adapted to though, finding romance in pillars, capitals and sculptural elements found in that era. I'm the illustrator for Anne Wilson Schaef's "Words of Wisdom for Women Who Do Too Much" Cards. I did them in watercolor and worked with Hayhouse Inc. Publishing to create all 52 cards. The originals were done in watercolor and ink. That was a great gig. Right now I am back to clay between my fingers, doing sculpture. Clay and pottery being in my background, I know that medium very well. My new series is called "Bleeding Wings." I'm on to number six now. I write about each one in both poetry and thoughts. The series is about the battle of meeting and understanding who we are. No one meets who they are when the lights are turned on in total comfort. There is a stereotype that creative people are "different," which can be a positive or a negative at times. What are your thoughts on this? I HOPE to be different. I'm different in both good and bad ways I guess. My senses become overwhelmed easily. If I go gallery hopping I can only see a few; once I am filled and must go home and bask in it. I always hope that artists will get past the competitive edge that feels abrasive to me. I need them. I need fellow artist to confirm that I am safe within my mind's wandering sometimes. I seek out the inner wonder that is so tenderly under the surface of each artist. No matter the artists perception drawn from their work, be it angry, playful, even poorly executed, there is an inner child I need to meet in them. Being an artist is often just jumping off into an abyss and that is darn scary but exciting at the same time. It takes courage and so it is helpful to relate to others who understand that. I can be embarrassingly overconfident or pathetically unsure. It all depends on how well my art is going really. It keeps me awake at night because of imperfections or because things are coming together well ... either way I don't sleep. Do you believe being creative has caused you aberrations in life, helped you deal with life's aberrations, or both? I chose the other path. Sometimes with regret, I have kicked and screamed inside deploring that path, but it is who I am and there is no protest that will be adhered to in me for that. Ultimately I brake before crossing but I always cross over. The older I get the more I realize that the people I thought I had things in common with, common emotions, were not who I thought. I only imagined them a certain way. I'm a drama queen. My moods are volatile but I try to keep that part private as much as I can. I met a woman once who had lived in the same house for 30 years. She raised her children there, prepared her husbands lunch for work each day, and watched TV with the sound so low that only she could hear it. If it was too loud her husband would get mad at her and cut off the plug. I say, "No, not me!" to women like that--the ones who say, "These are the rules set before me and so I follow them without question." Yet because I can be a drama queen I think small issues would have been simpler to deal with if I had been a rule follower. Drama creates a sensation that sometimes evolves into unwelcome reactions, true, but thinking it over in depth as I write this, I don't think its all that bad. I've had a lot of crisis in my life. By a certain age most people have developed a history of some consequence and hopefully have entertaining stories to relate. It is in those times of crisis, no matter how I've handled them, I've realized that after the dust clears, the road leads clear, and there is no line to stand in unless I chose to adhere to those rules. I don't. Have you had to deal with people in your life failing to understand your creative drive? If so, can you tell us about it and how you've dealt with it? My husband seems to be the happiest when I'm creating. Being a creative being himself, he thrives when those energies flow. Creativity is contagious and seems to infect any medium it touches, no matter how different the expression. I am fortunate to have that. However, in my life I've had few who understood the complexities of an artist's spirit. I paint or sculpt, write or see things in a different way because I simply have no choice. Past those closest to me, my husband and daughters, I'm not sure it matters to me whether I'm understood or not. I often wonder, "Am I truly creative or do I just think I am?" Have you ever wondered about this? In a world filled with creative people and people who think they're creative, how have you been able to distinguish yourself and your talent, despite any doubts along the way? I think everyone is creative. We're all born with it yet from day one it has been continually robbed from us. I like what Picasso said about that: "All children are artists. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up." I try to appreciate something, anything, about anyone's effort to create something new. I think creativity IS GOD. When I look at a sunset or sunrise I have met with God. When I pick a leaf and see that it is unique unto itself, I have met with God. A simple crayon drawing done by a five year old has something to say to us if we listen. I try to see that, embrace that, and in that I know I have the very same opportunities as that five year old to express myself or not. Am I more amazing than another artist? I don't know, I only know I have to opportunity to create and am enriched each time I do so. Unfortunately, many creative people never achieve the success they dream about. How have you coped with disappointments? I go back and forth with all of that. Do I need a star on my worksheet from time to time? Of course I do, I'm not different in that respect. I do a lot of self promo online and toot my own horn with the anticipation that I will in fact develop my own fame. Like it or not world, I'm here and I'm singing my own song with the gusto of a mother. I deal with the pitfalls by telling myself that home is actually in the depths of creativity itself and that by sheer volume of my efforts I will only be better for it. I think the best way to get over disappointment and failure is to prove the critics wrong. The loudest critic is the sound of our own voice echoing back at us and that is best conquered by the continual process of doing even more art. I often wonder about the similarities and differences creative people have in terms of thought processes. How would you describe your creative process? How does your mind work? I'm deeply affected by music. I normally pick out what I'm going to listen to for each artistic effort. I play the same CD over and over and over. Sometimes I hit replay on the same song over and over as well. I set that mood and apply it to what I'm working on. I actually listened to Pink Floyd's "Momentary Lapse of Reason" for one full year (nothing else) as I did a sculpture series. I just couldn't get enough of it. I also turn DVD's on at the same time I have a music CD on. It's total chaos. I only just recently realized why I do it. It's because of the voices. Not in a schizophrenic sense. Thoughts creep up that haunt me and creating chaos is a way of dismissing them. When I paint I'm not really in that zone until I've gotten to the point of a dance. It's in that dance that I hear "them" breathing. "Them" being figures and faces ... as I am a figurative artist. I almost always ask Matisse to show me the colors when I paint. Matisse said you need to "feel" the colors. I'm a self taught artist so I have come to rely on feelings rather than structure. If whatever I'm working on isn't working, I can't sleep and feel physically ill. It's a lot to go through sometimes. I often exhaust myself emotionally and see only what I'm working on no matter where I am. It takes over everything, and either calms me or stings. What are the top three characteristics of a highly creative person, in your opinion? 1) I hope for sensitivity in artists and am disappointed when I come across one who seems shallow. I don't mind egotists, only ones who don't warrant notoriety. I think to be a good artist one needs to be a "noticer." In that sensitivity, I believe artists meet on a common ground where words are not necessary to have a meeting of the mind. 2) Obsession. Everything smelled, heard, seen, touched, tasted, and understood becomes an avenue for the dance of questions that can only be answered through art. 3) The ability to step outside of themselves and become someone or something else. Many creative people have tons of ideas but never follow through. I'm not sure if it's because they lack drive, organization, or focus. What are your thoughts on this phenomenon? There are a zillion reasons why people don't follow through with things. Artists are no different. We all have dreams that we long to pursue. Some do and some don't. Some don't want to know that they can't; they don't want to try lest they fall. One step in front of the other leads to eventual mastery of anything, but some people never see themselves that way. Many sabotage successes and find a certain pleasure or relief in failure. The element of laziness is a real factor despite protests that one is waiting for inspiration. Depression comes easy to the artist in my opinion, so that is an element that can't be ignored either. However, depression can lead to some of the artist's best work if they can muster up the effort to pull themselves out of those moods. The dark side embraced can bring a million new colors. I find my own colors or lack of them in all of these examples. Sometimes I shine and sometimes I can't find one single hint of me at all. I continue to pursue it though. I have no choice in the matter. To learn more about Kathy and her work, visit her site. _____________________________ Up Next on Aberration Nation: Lisa See, author of Snow Flower and the Secret Fan and Shanghai Girls.

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