Friday, May 25, 2012

Writer's Creative Studio has combined with Before You Write: Lou Belcher

Well, I've officially done it. I have combined several of my blogs for my convenience and yours. I've included my art and photography gallery with my other writing blog at http://www.beforeyouwrite.com.

Please come join me over there. And please follow me. I promise to make it interesting for you.

Click here to stop by my new location...

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Texture on Tuesday at Turkey Creekl




I have combined this blog with my writing blog. Please join me at http://www.beforeyouwrite.com 
For my photos and drawings, click on the gallery over there.  Thanks.  See you there

Monday, April 2, 2012

Creativity Galore.....

Remember.... it's the process of painting ..not the product that counts.
Life is really humming over here.  For three weeks (this is the beginning of the fourth week) I've been taking a class called BIG Fearless painting.  It's spectacular. The point of it is the process of painting and not the product (that's a good thing). We're learning lots about ourselves through this experience of painting and thinking BIG.  I'm loving it.  I'm taking it through DirtyFootprints-studio.com and it's just what I needed to give the the courage to try something larger than my little pen and ink drawings.

Yesterday, I started two other online courses.  Yes, I know I'm crazy. I keep adding and adding to my schedule and don't delete anything.  Anyway, I'm going to find the time... make the time.  One of the two is also through DirtyFootprints-studio.com and it's called 21 Secrets.  There are 21 different instructors giving us secrets on techniques to apply in our art journals.  Love learning all this inside stuff.

The other is a workshop on how to draw a Labrador Retriever. This is through Capturing the Spirit at http://www.artlabs.ning.com.  This a wonderful group of people who draw or love pets.  Belonging to the site is free and you can join at any time. If you want to take the monthly workshop, it's only $20.00 per month.  Very economical. This month we are drawing a lab... Fergus to be exact. Now, you all know I love cats, but I'll be able to apply these skills to drawing Bugsy and Knuckles too.

Anyway, that's what's up over here.  The month of April is off to a roaring start.


Sunday, March 11, 2012

Try Something New Today - I Did!

Wow... Big doings over here. I'm taking the BIG painting workshop on-line. This is week one and I finished my first gigantic (for me) mixed media painting today.  And....no, you are not going to see it. That's not the point of the workshop, The point is process, now product and that's good because the product looks like the first.

Yesterday, I set up a studio of sorts on the glassed-in porch. I haven't really needed a studio before since I usually produce 6 by 9 inch pen and ink drawings. So to paint at 35 inch sizes means I had to clear out some space. That done, this morning it took me quite a while to really put that first bit of paint on paper. I procrastinated quite a while getting everything set up just so. Fear... I think it was feat, but I talked my way out of being afraid of the paper, afraid of the paint. 

Today's painting... if I had to name it: Garden Covered by Mudslide.  Ha!  but the process is the point!

Have a great day.... Trying something new!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Focus

The word focus has a specific meaning when speaking of photography. Wouldn't it be great to point your attention to an event or project and have your mind's automatic focus feature zoom in on it and stay there until you release it.

Too often, however, we focus to sharp in the initial minute or two of a session working on a project, then our minds betray us. A stray thought creeps in and before we know it, we are thinking of something else entirely while drawing or painting or writing. Consequently, quality suffers.

Here are some suggestions on how to increase focus:

1. Assess your creative environment. You know what your working environment needs in order for you to focus. If you  can't work in a messy environment, clean up before you start to work. If you can't focus with the TV on, turn it off. If you work best with soft music, tune in. If you like to rock out while working, then rock out. An environment that helps you zoom in is entirely individual, so assess your needs and make your environment meet those needs.

2. Start your work session with a few minutes of quiet. Sit quietly at your desk or easel and let your mind settle on the task at hand. Once you start working, gently redirect your focus each time it strays. Don't be harsh with yourself. Rather, keep the creativity flowing by nudging your attention to your self-assigned task.

3. Believe you can achieve greatness with every project. Believe you are capable of producing your best work.  Be your own best cheerleader and your work will reflect that positive energy.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Green

GREEN 

In anticipation of St. Patrick'sn Day... GREEN

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Clean up for Creativity

I think this blog should be about cleaning.

Maybe I should call it the Cleaner's Creative Studio. Why? Because it seems I talk about cleaning, or at least think about it, more than writing, art or photography.

 Now, I'm not saying that the place is dirty.  It's not. But, I'm a writer... my demons are piles of books and piles of papers. That's the writer's life, right?

I know exactly the environment I want.  I want empty surfaces. Doesn't every writer want a few empty surfaces.

If any of you have licked this problem, let me know your secret. I'm making progress. I put it off for a long time because I know that before I reach this goal, the place will have to get messier and messier. I've started the task a few times, but to do what I really want to do (get rid of at least 50% of my stuff) I have to drag everything out of everywhere and then I'll really be in a pickle. 

Just coming clean about what I'm doing here, so if one day I sound incoherent, you'll know why.  

Seriously, let me know if you have any suggestions or .... if you have a bulldozer to loan me, I'll pay to have it transported.


Tuesday, February 14, 2012

New Cat in Town...

Happy Valentine's Day everyone... Hope you all have a wonderful day.

Just posted these guys in my Etsy Shop... the Day is about soul mates, after all... they come in all sizes.



Saturday, February 11, 2012

Desire to Inspire - Book Review


Okay, I'll admit it... I have gone nuts for this book.  I have already ordered three of them - one for me and I've given two away. I probably should order a case of them, because I can see myself giving them away to friends frequently.

I must admit that I haven't read the whole book, but I want to savor it, and I couldn't wait any longer to tell you about it. This is one of those books designed to inspire and it does. And you don't need to read more than a paragraph or two at a time to find yourself charged up to get something done.  

So,  what is it?  It's a compilation of thoughts on creativity, on being a force for good, about getting inspired to do your best work. It was masterminded by Christine Mason Miller.  I've been following her blog for some time. In her own words,

Desire to Inspire: Using Creative Passion to Transform the World aims to explore what it means to live a meaningful, inspiring life and how many of today's leading artists and visionaries have figured out how to do this...

She has gathered together a group of 14 contributors who are seamlessly woven into the book to share their best inspiration too. Many are artists, some photographers, writers, filmmakers. They speak of creativity through topics such as caring for the world, the choices you make, your dreams, your purpose, your mission, your journey, challenges, etc. 

I doubt I need to say it, but I highly recommend this book. When you read it, come back and let me know what you think. I'll still be here reading it over and over, page by page.


Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Paradise

If you live somewhere cold, This one's for you...



Friday, January 27, 2012

for the fun of it....

 Too often I let myself get caught up in the work of writing and the work of learning to draw and the work of photography and don't take the time to just enjoy it.  So, I've recently decided to spend some time on all three just enjoying myself.  I'll draw silly pictures and doodle to my heart's content and write a story that breaks all the rules occasionally.  It won't hurt and it'll probably help me to loosen up a bit in all areas.

How do you go about getting your creativity revved up to a fever pitch?  One way I've found is to exercise.  I have been working out lately and have found that it gets the blood flowing. And when it doesn't send me off for a long afternoon nap, it does improve my creativity.  That's a tip from me to you.

Enjoy your weekend and take some time to enjoy your craft just... for the fun of it.

Friday, January 20, 2012

A change of scenery...

Foxtail Grass... Henderson, North Carolina

On my last vacation, I stayed a month in Black Mountain, North Carolina. I went there to gain a new perspective on my photography. I had grown complacent with all the palm trees and lush tropical flowers of Florida and needed something new to photograph.  This is one of my favorites from that trip. 

And, after the trip into a different environment, I found new beauty back here in the tropics.



Give me your best shot at Better in BulkPhotoStory Friday
Hosted by Cecily and Lolli

Saturday, January 14, 2012

The Power of a Creativity Group

I recently blogged about critique groups and what they can and can't do for you. Today, I want to talk about a twist on the critique group. It's a Creativity Group. I meet with one of these weekly and find it very helpful.

You may call it a writers' group or an art group. It doesn't matter. What matters is that it is a wonderful thing to get together with creative types on a regular basis.

The benefits:

1. Meeting with the group should recharge your creative batteries. After meeting with my group, I am ready to take on the world.

2. Individuals in your group will inspire you. Not only will you come away with new enthusiasm, but you'll probably come away with new insight and new ideas for your own work. I've found that when I'm giving suggestion to others, my brain is sometimes flooded with new ideas about my own projects.

3. When you're stuck, this group is where you can ask for help. Brainstorming is usually a strength of most creative groups. The group may not come up with the specific answer you're looking for, but they'll probably come up with enough new suggestions that it'll help.

4. Critique is often a benefit of a creative group. Some people don't want critique of their creative endeavors, but for those who welcome it, what better place to test out your latest story or painting. Many times a critique by a group of people you trust is just what you need. You'll learn things about your work that re-reading a million times won't tell you. There's nothing like a fresh set of eyes on your work.

5. Support. Because the work you and the other members of your group create is so personal, these are people you get to know very personally. Therefore, it's only natural that they will feel they have a stake in your success as well as in your overall well-being. Thus, folks will probably become some of the most important in your life.

If you're not in a group, I suggest you find one. There's nothing like it. I would also suggest that you move slowly and with care in forming the group. You will naturally want to put together the right mix of folks.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

The Taming of a To Do List

Does your to do list ever take on a mind of it's own?  Mine did, but that's creativity, right?  You see... they say that your body will naturally try to maintain the weight that is right for it if you listen to your hunger. Now that body might not be the one that they advertise in Vogue magazine, but it'll be the body that is right for your health.

I'm hoping the same is true of my  to do list.  I had the feeling that it had run amok, but I've come to the conclusion that it is just reaching it's natural level of health, and I'll just have to learn to live with it and enjoy it.  

A couple weeks ago, I decided that I would simplify my workload where I could and crack open a nice hole in my schedule to accomplish more writing on my books (yes, I'm working on three at once). So, I consolidated my gallery blog with this blog and it worked. Rather than trying to write articles every day, I post photos or art a couple times per week. That way, I don't feel guilty when I can't get to the writing. 

It worked for about a minute and a half. The other day, creativity struck again. I had the idea to put up The Helpful Blogger. It's a blog of how-to articles.... I do love writing a good how to now and then. The minute I launched the new blog, that writing hole closed again...

The day following my first post, I thought maybe I could be classified as crazy for starting something new with so many projects yet to finish. Then, I got my first follower on the blog... and decided that it was meant to be.  And, hey... no harm done, right. After all, I must be listening to the hunger of my creativity and writing to the level that is healthy for me.

What about you? How do you manage your to do list.  Obviously, mine is incorrigible.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Heart Card by Lou


Am starting to post Valentine cards in my etsy shop.  This one is up and others will follow.

It's time to think about that.  Just a few weeks away.  


Sunday, January 8, 2012

Simple Things - Flowers

"simple flowers" 


Sometimes flowers are just as beautiful when you take away the color.




Friday, January 6, 2012

Keeping Resolutions


This is my first year belonging to the fitness center. I was warned before Christmas that the place would be packed for a few weeks after Christmas due to all the New Year's Resolutions. Was surprised today when it wasn't. But after my workout, I did grab a bottle of water and watch some guys playing racquetball for a bit. It was nice they had that planter there so I didn't have to mess with drawing their feet... Next time. I'll show some feet.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Critique Groups: What they can and can't do for you.

Many writers participate in critique groups and find them very helpful. I have been in several over the years and got something out of all of them. These groups are organized in a variety of ways, When looking for a group (or starting a group), it's important to find one that meets your needs. So, if you've never been in a group, you might not know what you would want in one.  Here are a few of the ways you can set up a group and what you might look for as a benefit of belonging.

1. In many groups, everyone brings a copy of a chapter of their book for each member of the group. They read the chapter and critique between meetings and at the next meeting, those who participated, orally critique the chapters and in some groups they give a written critique as well.

2, I've also been in a group where members bring a chapter to the meeting and read it aloud. Members critique it on the spot orally. For some people, this is an effective method. For me, it never worked. I'm a visual person, so I have trouble critiquing without seeing the text and my auditory attention span is not as keen as my visual attention span.

3. Another form of critique is the one-on-one critique. Some people don't really like to put their writing before  a group, so they critique with one partner. This is often very effective because the two are able to get to know each other's writing very well and can often offer in-depth critiques.

4. I belonged to a critique group on line years ago. It was interesting, but we never knew who was going to be in the group from week to week, and, after a while, I didn't feel all that great about sending strangers electronic copies of my book. You could revise this and just let in particular members. That might work better.

There are as many configurations of critique groups and how they work as there are writers. When setting up a group or joining a group, here are a few things I'd suggest you keep in mind...

1. Decide before joining what you want to get out of the group and ask those in the group or those leading the group questions. Determine before joining if the group might meet your needs.

2. Think long and hard about how comfortable you are receiving suggestions and giving suggestions. If you are highly defensive, you might want to work on that before joining such a group. If you have difficulty offering suggestions in a diplomatic way, you might not want to join a group.

3. Some groups look at big issues only, such as plot, character development, point of view and how these things work in the book. Others look at everything down to commas and crossed t's.  It is my personal opinion that critique groups should only look at the big issues and not try to substitute as editors.  All work should be edited before it is sent out and a critique group is not the place for that detailed work.

4. After the group, it's up to you what you do with all the suggestions the others have given you. You are under no obligation to use all or any of the suggestions. If the suggestions don't fit what you have in mind for your book, don't feel bad about not using them.

Many of these suggestions apply to art critique groups as well.  I think it's healthy to the creative process to hear what others think of your work, but use all, some or none of the suggestions. Never forget that it's your book or painting or photograph,  and you ultimately must be satisfied with how it turns out.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Happy New Year.... Sweet Shot Tuesday #1




Sweet Shot Day

Pelican at Port Canaveral


Yesterday, I spent the morning with my brother. We met at Grill's Restaurant at Port Canaveral. It was too chilly to sit out in the air. I like to do that best, because the pelicans are only feet away when you sit out there. Instead, we sat on the glassed in porch. Here's a guy from that trip... Didn't think to draw a table or two into the picture.  Just wanted him this time.