My wife, Donna, is an artist. Long before I met and married her, some 30 years ago, she had been an experienced artist. Early in her artistic career, she studied mostly oil painting, and she later moved in to pastels. She also studied with several well-regarded teachers, one being Jack Richard. As a portrait-artist, Jack Richard was commissioned to paint many famous celebrities, including Bing Crosby, Bob Hope, and President George H. W. Bush.
But for whatever reason, my wife still doubts her abilities. Maybe all artists do, at some level. And because of that, she immerses herself, almost constantly, in further training. She takes classes in painting, in collage, and in drawing. I admire her desire to be better, but I secretly think (and I may be wrong about this, but I don’t think so) that she sometimes over-indulges in continued instruction because she feels (quite erroneously) that she lacks the ability of that of her peers.
The above drawing is a style she has been practicing for several years now. It’s called ‘Zentangle’. It consists of ornately-drawn designs that may, or may not, follow a pattern. The person who started this craze meant it as a sort of therapy, a bit like adult coloring-books. But the trend took off! Again, in pure ‘Donna’ fashion, she dove head-first in to classes and workshops. In fact, she’ll be attending a week-long seminar this summer focusing on nothing but Zentangle.
I bring this up because we had a discussion the other night about ‘perspective’. One of the groups with which she’s involved is a ‘journal’ group. Basically, someone starts a book filled with several pages of art wrapped around a theme. Then, they pass the book to someone else in the group, and that artist has to contribute several more pages centered around that same theme. Again, she’s been involved with these groups now for several years.
But in the latest project, she was stumped. The theme was ‘color’. A couple of days had passed, and nothing was being done to her blank pages. “I can’t think of anything,” she pleaded, as we sat in front of the television one night.
In addition to working in front of a microphone, I also like to take photos. I call myself an amateur photographer, and in some of my down-time during the day here in the studio I try to watch You Tube videos about various subjects in photography and video, everything from cameras to lenses to post-production and image-manipulation. I also have a number of apps on my phone that help in ‘doctoring’ photos and making them better. Or, just different.
While I listened to her talk about her dilemma, I thought of a client I had at a news-talk radio station several years ago. His station was a St. Louis Cardinals affiliate, and, at the start of the season, he sent me several pages to voice. But his email signified some exasperation. Not so much with me, but with the fact that ‘the station sounded the same every year when it comes to baseball. Wish we could do something different.”
So, instead of emulating a typical large-voiced news-talk imaging guy, I decided to approach it as just….me. I tried to hype the upcoming season not with what you thought you should hear, but rather what the emotion of the season seemed to dictate. R.C., the program director, and I are both HUGE baseball fans. So I dug deep. Not as far as vocal-range, but more so as far as the emotive-spirit of Opening Day, how we both had waited all winter for this day, and that this season was finally upon us.
And it seemed to work! He liked the approach, and so did I. It seemed more…natural. More believable. In fact, in later sessions during the year, he would reference it, making notes in an email such as, “Let’s do the baseball-read again on this promo”.
So, sensing Donna’s apprehension, I walked over to the other side of the room and grabbed the Zentangle above and took a photo. Then, I ran it through several post-production filters, played with it awhile, and then I sent it to her in a text. She looked at it, paused, and said, “Is that my Zentangle?”
I nodded. “Yep. Maybe you just need a different perspective on something you’ve already done.”
And it worked.
She was able to re-imagine something for her journal, and I was able to add a piece (with the artist’s permission, of course!) to my collection. All done in the name of ‘re-imagination’.
So, maybe it just takes a few moment to pause and reflect, to grab that old piece of wood in the garage, stare at it for awhile, and position it in a different way. Who knows. Maybe what was once lodged in a corner serving no purpose now becomes something full of energy and vitality.