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6527212 January 17, 2013

Who Am I in This Crowd?

I don't want the burden of feeling that it's my job to smooth things over with everyone in every situation. I don't want to feel that they are right, and I am most certainly wrong, that they are all surely better, smarter, wiser, more talented, kinder, gentler. That they know what is best for me.

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6527212 June 24, 2011

Releasing Complexity: Claudia Furlani

"Through art , I synthesize, play, and let off all the complexity of my inner world."

I have a strong suspicion that my inner world is more complex than the average Joe's.  I began to suspect this around age six, when I was lamenting about the kid in our class who was rumoured to have a mother who jumped off a bridge (and eaten by alligators) while I was trying to stop my own mother from killing herself.  

By the time I was a teenager, my high speed turmoil and associated thought processes began to fuse with my innate outwardly sunny disposition to create a persona that most people couldn't quite compute ... causing all kinds of issues.  Once I finally realized this, I stopped expecting to be fully understood, and I started writing novels.

Now I understand myself better than I ever have.  Like my guest today, artist Claudia Furlani, I write and paint as a way to let off some of that complexity.  I didn't bolt out of bed one morning with the bright idea of doing this.  The need and desire to do it simply evolved as I grew up and stepped away from my afflicted mother into my own life. 

Recently a few folks have referred to me as a creative.  It sounds like some kind of Star Trek alien nation.  When I considered myself solely a writer, I never thought I'd be called a creative.  I wasn't even familiar with the word (used that way) until a couple of years ago.  Everyone has the capacity to be creative and to create, so what exactly is a creative? 

I researched the use of the term creative to describe a group of folks and didn't come up with too much.  Writer Jeff Goins ran a blog post about it in February.  He says:

"A creative is an artist. Not just a painter or musician or writer. A creative is someone who sees the world a little differently than others. A creative is an individual. He is unique, someone who doesn’t quite fit into any box. Some think of creatives as iconoclasts; others see them as rebels. Both terms would be quite apt. A creative is a thought leader. He influences people not necessarily through personality but through his innate gifts and talents.  A creative creates art — not to make a buck, but to make a difference. She writes to write, not to be noticed or to sell books. She sings to sing, for the pure joy of making music. And she paints to paint (and so on…).  A creative colors outside the lines… on purpose. In so doing, she shows the world a whole new picture they never would have otherwise seen. A creative breaks the rules, and as a result, sets a new standard to follow."

Is that what I do?  I don't like being put into categories, but being a creative doesn't seem too bad.  I still want to be my own category.  It's called being a Penelope, and there is no one else who can join me in it.  It's lonely sometimes but it's where I need to stay.  I'm driven to write and paint even if what I produce sucks.  It's a simultaneous trap and release.  An obsession that sets me free.  An escape that holds me down.  Freedom among the ruins. 

For me, the process of creating is like worship, therapy, vacation, work, and communication all swirled up into one.  When you're like me, you create because that's what makes life bearable on a deep personal level that transcends even love.  The people you love and who love you are supposed to be what makes life worth the effort, but I feed on something different.  Perhaps this makes me narcissistic or psychopathic.  Not sure.  Perhaps I just need art to keep me sane so that I can love others and accept their love.  Art makes love possible for me.

Oh, the mysteries of life.  I think too much.  I try not to, but it's difficult to shut down the machine.   Like Claudia, I'm introverted, observant, and very imaginative.  We are passionate.  I am still full of love that's trying to get out.  I grew up in an environment that was overwhelming.  Art defined as "imaginative skill as applied to representations of the natural world or figments of the imagination," has enabled me to bring my inner and outer worlds together in a way that best represents who I am.  Almost everything else seems frivolous.

Art lasts forever. 
  



[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zPCTgyND_tw]

Have you always know you would be an artist? How has your artistic life evolved?

Since I can remember, I've always been involved with color, paint, drawing or painting. During college I worked on several things including advertising agencies in the area of computer graphics, an area that has always fascinated me, but my passion for art and sheer will to create freely guided my choices.

How would you best describe your personality, and how your art relays that to the world?

I am an introverted person, observant, and very imaginative. Through art , I synthesize, play, and let off all the complexity of my inner world.

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

Yes, there was a big "Ah-ha" and fortunately it's becoming a new project that is underway. It's about people their dreams and nightmares. I still can't give many details in this moment so as not to spoil the surprise.

You seem to enjoy both painting and graphic art. Do you have a favorite or do you enjoy both equally? Can you tell us a little bit about what each gives to you in terms of the ability to express yourself creatively?

I do not have a favorite. Painting is something very lonely, and graphic art process is the opposite. I usually go out to photograph people or places, depending on the subject that I want to express. I choose one language or another.

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

Yes, I believe that has caused many, but today I do not worry about it. The creativity just helps me to cope and overcome the problems.

In what ways does art sooth or inspire you during difficult or challenging times?

The art helps, but you have to want to indulge yourself while you are creating, just so you move away from everything else. Your focus is just in your art. And at this moment all problems are dissolved

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?

Oh, many times, including the first years of my marriage.  I always worked during the night and never had a strict routine. With great patience and persistence, all problems have been worked out.

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?

Ideas come from everywhere, from all places and from all things that I see.  Also, all the people I talk to.  I like to observe everything and everyone. Without that involvement, the artist closes.

I am self-motivating. I enjoy working with ideas that challenge me.  At creation time, I try to enter the "flow" of the here and now and not worry about the results.

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?

For an artist to stand out as a great talent, he really has to have talent. His work should stimulate and provoke curiosity. He might even do something that's been done before, for example, writing the lyrics of a song that speaks of "Love."  Something so common, yet his ability to create will differentiate it from others.

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

I follow my intuition.  I think this is my only mantra. It's important to me because up until now has always worked very well.

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6527212 March 16, 2008

Is THAT Art?

Although I majored in Biology, I spent many hours in college studying art history. At the time, it never occurred to me to actually paint anything. I was a writer in my spare time, not an artist. All I wanted was to express something beautiful and appealing that held more than ordinary significance, all with words. Strangely enough, a couple of years ago, I began having an urge to paint. I wasn’t sure what I would paint or how it would look but just as I have an odd love of writing or typing letters onto a blank page, I found myself wanting to slide color across a white canvas. I wanted to feel a brush in my hand and make the paint fill up the nothingness in front of me - like words emerging on paper -creating something that wasn’t there before. I began to wonder if all the things I had to express just might not fit into words. I wondered if I had creative ideas that might be best expressed visually.

Now that I’ve been painting for a couple of months, I see that it’s true. The primary definition of art is the quality, production, expression, or realm, according to aesthetic principles, of what is beautiful, appealing, or of more than ordinary significance. How is this so different from literature? Sure each requires different tools and techniques but the common denominator of creativity is there. So I’m asking why I should limit myself to one form of expression. But is it really art, good art, that I’m creating? What is good art anyway? Prior to a month or so ago, I’d never painted anything in my life so I wondered what right I possibly had to imagine that I could paint something meaningful. It could be junk.

In his book, The Accidental Masterpiece: On the Art of Life and Vice Versa, Michael Kimmelman, Chief Art Critic for The New York Times, says what makes art good is partly its power to proliferate as a variable memory, an intangible concept, filtered through individual consciousness. He says that art is, first of all, a physical object with which we interact in the moment. But after we have seen a work, what do we take away except a memory of it? A memory is a thought, a mental seed planted by the artist, which is reproduced in as many different variations as the number of people in whom the memory exists.

According to author of Party of One: The Loners' Manifesto, Anneli Rufus, artists hear what no one else hears. They see what no one else sees. They say what no one else says. They must. And to do this, they traffic in the slippery yield of their own souls. They bring to earth the wrack and lode of depths that only they can reach and still come back alive.

It’s not always a fun process but if something can emerge that is beautiful, authentic, and meaningful, the dive is worth it, at least for me. If I can eventually create a visual expression that not only produces a response in the moment, but that expands into a lasting memory, or at least an afterthought, I may succeed. This is, after all, exactly what I strive to do using words. At the heart, it is all about vitality, sensory input, and the unlocking of the psyche through human emotion, the link we share despite time and place and circumstance. It's the song that validates through its perfection and the movie that touches a personal or societal nerve, lingering in the mind. It’s the book that lays something significant bare, cracks it open, even if it’s simply your own heart, and perhaps it’s the painting that dives into your gut and pulls out the thing you thought you’d lost, or the thing you never knew you had.

In 1917, Marcel Duchamp challenged the art world by proclaiming a porcelain urinal as art. His bold move significantly influenced modern art. Anything is art if you think it is, whether it’s a picture hanging in the IHOP or mounted in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, whether it's your child’s coloring book picture or your teenager’s photograph. The same could be said for words. Your favorite poem may be the one your husband wrote for you, or your favorite book may be the bodice ripper you read at the beach last summer. These were all created by individuals choosing to express something important to them. You’ve validated their expression by placing their work on your favorites list. And who are you? You may be my neighbor or you may be Michael Kimmelman. So if this is true, how do we know which painting will land in a gallery or museum one day. How do we know which book deserves publication or a Pulitzer? If one man’s junk is another man’s treasure, how can we stop expressing ourselves for fear that it just won’t be good enough?

I envy those who create simply for fun or economic necessity. They enjoy a hobby or industrial mentality that gives them release, relief and reward. It’s fun for me, too, but on top of the fun, I can’t seem to stop wanting what I create to be better than the best, perfect, wonderful, mind boggling, unique, and unforgettable. I can’t seem to feel the release, relief and reward as readily as I’d like. But I won’t stop reaching for it because I can’t. That’s the sort of cursed existence Anneli Rufus describes as the slippery yield of the soul.

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