Jacki Kellum

Juxtapositions: Read My Mind

Category: Jacki Kellum Watercolor

Silences – Times When No Sound Is Good

Withered White Hibiscus – by Jacki Kellum

When you look at my paintings, it is obvious that I leave out or omit many details that might have made my paintings more realistic. I do this intentionally. When paintings reveal everything that a camera or some other machine might see, the viewing simply becomes mechanical–data in—data out.  The viewer might be impressed—even awed by the painter’s expert ability to render details; but that is about all that the viewer is allowed to experience because the overly technical or realistic painting is too filled with detail and explanation—there are no quiet spaces for meditative observation—there are no silences—there is no emptiness.  Everything is spelled out—there is no need for interpretation.  There is no mystery—no intrigue.  No invitation is issued to the viewer to participate and to do some imagining or even thinking of his own.  You might say that the technically perfect painting suffers from “too much information.”

The same principle might be true of some novels, essays, and nonfiction writing. They also may have too much information to be appealing–to evoke an emotional response. I have often said the while good novels tend to be good oil painting, good watercolor painting tends to be poetry.

“What delights us in visible beauty is the invisible.” – Marie von Ebner-Eschenbach

I believe that all creative work needs places of Zen-like emptiness—pools that can be filled by the viewer’s spirit.  Or conversely, they should evoke a quiet emptiness within the viewer—pools that can be filled by the spiritual essence that resides in the invisible, silent spaces within the painting or the poem. In my opinion, paintings and writing should be meditative, spiritual–and the mechanically, technically perfect–the fully exposed–cannot be either.

It is my belief that when viewers look at paintings, they should not be looking for technicality– they should be LISTENING to the Sounds of Silence. Similarly, when one reads poetry, he should not strive to fully understand–to know all that there might have been–but to enter the poet’s word-ship and sail.

Silences can be good and they can be bad. In art and in poetry, some silences are more important than sound.

©Jacki Kellum February 15, 2017

Sound

Learning to Trust Your Intuition – Your Writer’s Voice

When I am painting and when I am writing, I consider it a great day when something within myself takes over and essentially completes my project for me. This gentle urging is intuition. It is the spark that helped Michelangelo release his sculptures from a piece of rock, and it is your writer’s voice.

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Yesterday, I wrote about my use of brilliant colors when I paint at jackikellum.com Here

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Janis Joplin – Watercolor by Jacki Kellum

Readers commented that they admire my bravery when I paint, and I should have said that I am not the brave part of my painting team. My intuition is. When I am having a good painting day, an inward force literally takes control of my hand and urges it to dip into a little more and slash it here or a little pink and slash it there.

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In the Pink – Watercolor by Jacki Kellum

If I look carefully at my painting repeatedly and squint my eyes regularly as I paint, an internal voice takes over and tells me what to do where. I merely go into auto pilot, and I allow my intuition to do the heavy lifting. When I am having a good writing day, the same thing happens with my words–they begin to write themselves.

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I wrote a poem about how my intuition guides me as I write. The title of that poem is On Silver Sheets, I Sail. When I am writing my first drafts, I usually write in a stream of consciousness. I don’t stop and edit myself. I rarely correct my spelling as I writer. I simply hop on my laptop and begin typing the words that enter my mind. I love this type of writing. When I edit, however, my stream of consciousness is not at play, and I no longer enjoy writing. People who try to edit themselves too early never allow themselves to enjoy the intuition’s free ride, and they often feel that they are experiencing Writer’s Block. They are actually experiencing a type of fear that is the enemy of creativity.

Fear is the worst thing that can happen to anyone who hopes to create.

Fear prevents the painter from painting, and he forces the writer to edit himself literally to death.

Secrets About Life Every Woman Should Know: Ten Principles for Total Emotional and Spiritual Fulfillment by [De Angelis, Barbara] Barbara de Angelis wrote an excellent treatise on Fear: [image credit Amazon]

“Imagine that you had a person in your life who followed you around twenty-four hours a day, filling you with anxiety, destroying your confidence, and discouraging you from doing the things that you wanted to do. Every time you were about to make a change or take a risk, the person would say, ‘I wouldn’t do that if I were you. What if you fail? What if you get hurt? All kinds of things might happen if you go in that direction.’ Imagine that before each conversation you had with friends, family, or loved ones, the person would pull you aside and caution you. ‘If you open up, you might get rejected. Watch what you say! Don’t trust anyone! . . . ” Barbara De Angelis

Fear is like an emotional roommate that lives with you day and night.

“It’s your fear. Fear is like an emotional roommate that lives with you day and night. It talks to you, manipulates you, and tries to convince you to avoid doing or expressing anything that may cause you any kind of discomfort or involve any sort of risk. It says, ‘You can’t’ . . . and ‘You shouldn’t.,’ and it eats away at your confidence and your self-esteem. It tells you not to act, not to reach out, not to try, not to trust, not to move. It steals the life right out from under you. . . .” Barbara De Angelis

Fear is one of your most powerful inner enemies. It is a force that can sabotage your happiness.

“Fear is one of your most powerful inner enemies. It is a force that can sabotage your happiness. How does fear do that? It keeps you stuck in what’s not working. It prevents you from growing. It keeps separation between you and other people. It talks you out of your dreams. It keeps you stagnant, frozen, unable to become all you were meant to be. . . .” Barbara De Angelis

“It is fear that keeps us standing on the cliff when we know that we need to leap to the other side. But fear does more than just hold you back–it steals your aliveness, your passion, your freedom by shutting down your heart. . . .The extent to which you allow fear to control your life is the extent to which you are living as a prisoner.

I read De Angelis’s book 25 years ago, and it is undoubtedly the most inspirational of any self-help book that I have ever read.  Although the book is supposedly for women, I feel that the passages about Fear are appropriate for most artists and writers. Fear is one of a creative’s most crippling forces.

After years of being muted by my own fear, I finally gained enough stamina to simply override my restraints and to create in spite of my fear. But that was a long and uphill climb.

 You can read excerpts from De Angelis’s book on her Facebook Page Here

You can also read a great deal of her writing at Google Books Here

When I saw that today’s writing prompt is “Trust,” I initially thought of the song on the movie Peter Pan, You Can Fly.

“All it takes is faith and trust. Oh, and something I forgot. . . just a little bit of pixie dust. . . .
Come on everybody, here we go–Off to Neverland! . . .
There’s a Neverland waiting for you, where all your happy dreams come true,
Every dream that you dream will come true.”

I know, you are probably thinking that you simply don’t have the pixie dust, but you do. Everyone has the pixie dust that is needed for creating. It is your intuition. I am firmly convinced that a type of creative angel does lie within each of us and that as we begin the process of writing or painting or sculpting or dancing, we release that muse, and the muse takes on a life of its own. It is important to note, however, that it is through the work that we tap into the muse. In other words: “Which comes first, the chicken or the egg?” In regards to writing, the work of simply writing comes first, and the muse follows.

“One reason I don’t suffer Writer’s Block is that I don’t wait on the muse, I summon it at need.” – Piers Anthony

When people say that they only write when they are in the mood to write, they are missing something very important. In fact, they are cheating themselves. In writing, “the mood” or the muse evolves after we begin to write. Perpetuating the myth that we can postpone writing until we are in the mood to write is buying into a falsehood. That is why many writers advocate writing morning pages. Most people who actually succeed with their writing careers say that in order to pop the cork that is bottling all of the things that are within themselves, they must first begin to write. Gradually, the mood or the muse or the intuition takes over, and the writer is unblocked.

Writing is a spiritual practice in that people that have no spiritual path can undertake it and, as they write, they begin to wake up to a larger connection. After a while, people tend to find that there is some muse that they are connecting to. Julia Cameron

The most important decision that is necessary for every writer and every painter and every musician is that of deciding whether you really want to be an artist or not. After that, the most important step is to show up each day and begin to work at creating what you want to create.

“You can’t build a reputation on what you are going to do.” – Henry Ford

After you have committed to showing up to write each day, do the following to unlock your muse or your intuition or your artistic voice:

First, You Need to Prime Your Pump

1. Ask yourself what you are passionate about. Start there!

Initially, you might not be able to recall any of your passions. You might think that life has kicked all of the passion out of you,  but you are wrong. If that were true, you wouldn’t be here, sitting in front of the computer, trying to decide what to write. You would still be vegetating in front of the television. You are still alive. Dig deeper.

2. Overcome Lethargy

Perhaps you feel that you are sinking in the quicksand of your own lethargy. Keep a canister of writing prompts handy to fight that problem, and when you are experiencing writer’s block, pull out one of those prompts and write about that.

The New York Times published a list of 500 great writing prompts Here.

Grab hold of one of those prompts and allow it to be your rope. Allow that to pull you out of your pit of lethargy.

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Every morning, I try to respond to the WordPress Daily Prompt. Read how you can also do that Here. Today’s writer’s prompt is “Trust.”

3. Begin with a Quote

Often, when I see the WordPress Daily Prompt, I cannot initially think of anything to write. When a prompt is not enough to motivate me, I often turn to Google, and I do a Google search for quotes that might correlate with a word that I associate with the prompt. One morning’s WordPress Prompt was “Admire,” and I was not readily drawn to that topic. I performed two Google searches. One time I searched exactly the following words: “Quotes Admire.” The second time, I searched exactly the following words, “Quotes Admiration,” and after my searches, it was not long before I had written my own opinions about the prompt “Admire.” You can see what I wrote Here 

4. Write First – Title Later

When I begin writing a piece, I refrain from titling it. In fact, I do not title anything until I finish writing the piece entirely. Titling is a Writing-Stopper. A title is like a straight jacket. If you try to title first, you limit yourself because you write trying to confine yourself to the topic of the title. Just write, let the title spring from the writing. Begin to say what you want to say and allow your writing to evolve. Then title.

5. Allow Your Intuition to Do the Heavy Lifting of Your Writing

Creating any type of art requires that a series of decisions be made by the artist: red here? more grass? less water?, etc. When the intuition is fully functioning, the artist is hardly even aware of the questions–the intuition handles the question and answer dialog. Before this can happen, however, the artist must first allow Intuition to get his foot into the door; and then, the artist must learn to trust the decisions that Intuition makes for him. Intense listening with one’s inner ear–the intuitive ear– is a vital part of sharpening one’s inner eye or his writer’s voice and thus, of extracting a piece’s inward significance. Intuition and the Inner Artist are linked. Intuition is the instinctive way that one’s inner artist views and responds to life. When a painter allows intuition to guide him, the painter himself becomes a vessel and the art flows through the vessel. The same thing is true of the writer.

Knowing why one does this or that while creating is not important–just doing is the key to becoming. Making art is an intuitive response. When writers can access the words that lie within themselves, they begin to write more authentically. When writers create from within their intuitions, they often call that writing from “The Zone,” but it is actually writing from the intuition, which a reservoir of thoughts and emotions that run deeply within each person. The secret is tapping into that reservoir. You simply have to turn off your self-editor and allow the magic to begin. And then you have to Trust the process.

6. Don’t Worry About What Everyone Else Is Thinking about Your Writing

“You wouldn’t worry so much about what others think of you if you realized how seldom they do.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

Other people aren’t focusing on you. Quite worrying about what they think of you.  Just focus on yourself and your own goals and begin to write. Remember that you are writing to express yourself–not to express everyone else. Just talk–in plain language [Shakespearean English is out]–and say why these words are meaningful to you. People are more alike than you might think. Others will identify. Write it, they will read.

7. Write Naturally – Give Up the Idea that You Should Write Like Shakespeare

Please Don’t Thee and Thou Me
by Jacki Kellum

Please don’t Thee and Thou me.
That’s such a stuffy start.
That’s not the way to wow me,
Just say it from your heart.
©Jacki Kellum February 3, 2016

Jacki Kellum Rules for Writing Poetry – Rule Number 1

  1. Don’t try to use stilted, pretentious, poetry-sounding words. Just talk.

©Jacki Kellum February 3, 2016

7. Turn Off Your Self-Editor

Write first. Let it flow. Just talk. Spell later. As you begin to write, don’t worry about spell check at first. Getting stumped by spelling is another Writing-Stopper. Write first–then spell check; then correct the spelling. It might even help to do the writing and editing in a Word Document and then paste it into WordPress. Whatever it takes, do it, but don’t let you editing strangle your writing.

8. Consider Recording Your Writing and Then Transcribing It

If you cannot keep your self-editor in check, allow your cell phone‘s voice recorder to help you.  Just pick up your cell phone and download a voice recorder app and talk to the recorder. You can even send yourself lengthy voice messages and transcribe those. A friend of mine had a great idea for this. She said to send your message to yourself via email, and it will already be typed for you. How easy is that?

Image result for stephen kingIn his book Stephen King On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft, King said that he believes “…that stories are found things, like fossils in the ground….” He added:

“Stories are relics, part of an undiscovered pre-existing word. The writer’s job is to…get as much of each one out of the ground [p. 163] intact as possible.

….

“Plot is, I think, the good writer’s last resort and the dullard’s first choice. The story which results from it is apt to feel artificial and labored.

“I lean more heavily on intuition, and have been able to do that because my books tend to be based on situation rather than story.

“I want to put a group of characters (perhaps a pair; perhaps even just one_in some sort of predicament and then watch them try to work themselves free. My job isn’t to help them work their way free, or manipulate them to safety..but to watch what happens and then write it down.

“The situation comes first. The characters–always flat and unfeatured, to begin with–come next. … I have never demanded of a set [p. 164] of characters that they do things my way. On the contrary, I want them to do things their way. In some instances, the outcome is what I visualized. In most, however, it is something I never expected.” King, Stephen. On Writing: A Memoir of Craft, pgs. 163-65.

 

©Jacki Kellum October 16, 2016

Trust

Why I Use Bright, Vivid Colors When I Paint – I Love Color

I often frequent my local garden market, and I love it when they have a large assortment of Gerbera Daisies. It is a spectacle.

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Like a magnet, the brilliant display pulls me from across the room. I always want all of the daisies for my garden. One plant will not do. One color will not do. To emulate the riot of colors in the display, I want and need the entire bunch. I love color, and when it is in perfect form, my garden is a kaleidoscope.

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Jacki’s Garden July of 2015

I like it when my garden screams! There is nothing subtle or subdued about me. When I paint, I celebrate color in another way. Even when I paint the green areas around my florals, I often flood them with color.

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In the Pink – Jacki Kellum Watercolor

I believe in pink. I believe that laughing is the best calorie burner. I believe in kissing, kissing a lot. I believe in being strong when everything seems to be going wrong. I believe that happy girls are the prettiest girls. I believe that tomorrow is another day and I believe in miracles. – Audrey Hepburn

I use the brighter colors to add punch to the green areas of my paintings. Too many people only see black and white — right or wrong. In my experience, that type of life-view is terribly narrow, and the people who cannot stretch themselves to see more of the subtle variances of living are missing a great deal. Like Audrey Hepburn, I believe in Pink, and I also believe in Red and Yellow and Orange and Blue.

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October Leaves – Watercolor Study by Jacki Kellum

Not long ago, I demonstrated painting a close view of a tree trunk surrounded by October leaves. As usual, the class was appalled that I had used a lot of blue in what was supposed to be a brown tree. I explained that I use blue because I love color.  Color is a communicator.  The colors chosen to paint a tree or the sky around that tree determine much about what the tree will communicate in a painting.  For many years, I have told students that if they only want a pretty, accurate representation of a scene, they should buy a good camera.  The camera can do much that I could never do with paint–and it can do it much more rapidly and with much less expense.  A camera simply slices a piece of life and preserves it–just the way the lens sees it.

The camera is a machine–it reproduces what it sees and it does that without bias or emotion.  If the scene is beautiful, the photograph should be beautiful. If the scene is ugly, the photograph will be ugly. The camera mimics what it sees.

The artist has the option to move beyond a mechanical rendering.  The artist has the option to be more than a machine and to simplify or to omit unnecessary details and/or to exaggerate others. In doing so, the artist begins to tell a personal story.

Scientists and sociologists have studied the impact of color for many years.  It has been noted that since ancient time, colors have been used to evoke emotional responses.  Because I want my art to have an emotional response, I paint with exaggerated colors.

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December River – Watercolor by Jacki Kellum

In the above painting, December River, I purposely exaggerated the blues to convey the cold, dreary mood of winter.  Red, being the color of blood, is the color of energy–of life.  When I paint, I use a lot of red–and I do it very deliberately. I use red to infuse my subject matter with energy–with emphasis–with punch.

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Thanksgiving Across the Lake – Watercolor by Jacki Kellum

My paintings are a continuous battle of darks and lights–regressions and egressions–of deaths and life.  I use color to express that battle, and in every painting, I count on red to not only win the battle but to fly the flag of victory.

©Jacki Kellum October 15, 2016

Subdued

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